We have been following the reports related to the outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness caused by a coronavirus that reportedly comes from the markets of Wuhan, China.

Now the Chinese government has quarantined Wuhan and plans to shut down the airport and public transportation.

The virus has been linked to at least 17 deaths and has sickened over 500 others.

Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday that the city had asked people not to leave Wuhan without specific reasons, with the People’s Daily newspaper then tweeting that no one would be allowed to leave the city starting at 10 a.m. and that train stations and the airport will shut down. It said that city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance shuttle buses would also be temporarily closed, citing Wuhan authorities.

Other countries’ health agencies and governing bodies have issued warnings to travelers, including the U.K., which advised against “all but essential travel” to Wuhan, which is where the virus was first detected. Several countries have implemented enhanced screening measures at airports for flights arriving from the Wuhan region as China faces scrutiny over what officials knew about the outbreak and when they discovered it.

So far, several Asian nations have identified 555 cases as well as one American from Washington state. The Seattle area patient had traveled recently to China and arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport one week ago.

According to Dr. George Diaz, the head of the infectious disease program at Providence Regional Medical Center, the patient is isolated and will remain so until officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s OK for him to be released from isolation.

Diaz spoke to ABC News on Wednesday about the patient and what his daily life and routine is like now that he has become the country’s first patient with the mysterious virus.

According to Diaz:

  • Hospital staffers use a robot with a stethoscope to care for the man, an attempt to limit physical contact with him.
  • The patient resides in bio-containment room that is about 20×20, and it has security guards and four specially trained nurses who are assigned to his case.
  • Only 10-12 credentialed healthcare workers have access to room, and only a very few of them have have actually been inside his quarters.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared the virus a “public health emergency of international concern.” However, the organization’s emergency committee announced they need more information before they report the status of the outbreak and what recommendations they should issue. The group should re-review the status again on Thursday.

The Wuhan Virus was also a topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The discussions in Davos have focused, in part, on the impact the virus could have on the livelihoods of the citizens of China and people around the world if it turned into a pandemic, the people said. The talks also covered how leaders would manage their businesses amid the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations and beyond. The holiday is one of the busiest travel days in China.

Many companies, including big financial institutions J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, have offices in China and employ thousands of people there. While these American banks have yet to issue any warnings about the virus, a Europe-based financial institution has issued guidance to its staff as the virus spreads, according to a person at the bank participating in the World Economic Forum. This executive declined to be named or disclose the name of the bank issuing the guidance, given the sensitivity of the matter.

“We are advising staff to be aware of the situation, close monitoring is in place, and staff health and safety is our top priority,” the bank executive said.

 

 
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