Where has the virus spread to?
Authorities in China are battling to contain an outbreak of a deadly coronavirus, which has spread throughout the country and beyond its borders. Latest official figures put the number of cases in China at 440 and nine people have died, all of them in the central province of Hubei where the illness was first detected. UK infectious disease experts have doubled their estimate of the likely number of cases to 4,000.
Cases have been confirmed in 13 Chinese provinces, as well as the municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin. Five other countries in the region have each reported a single infection while US health officials announced that a man who travelled to Hubei has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Seattle.
Where did it start and where could it go next?
The outbreak is centred on the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and home to more than 11 million people. Authorities there have urged residents not to leave the city and visitors to avoid it, while fever scanners have been set up at highway checkpoints, the railway station and airport.
Wuhan’s international airport serves 104 destinations including 29 outside China. There are three direct flights a week from Wuhan to Heathrow, where arrivals from the affected city will now enter through a separate area. Screening has started at the three US airports where Wuhan flights land. Checks are also in place at airports in the other east Asian countries that have confirmed the virus is present.
How widely did Sars spread in 2003?
The Wuhan coronavirus is mainly spread through the respiratory tract and officials are concerned about the week-long Chinese new year holiday that begins on 24 January when millions of people travel home to celebrate.
This holiday also coincided with the Sars outbreak in 2003, which was similarly caused by a coronavirus. China’s handling of Sars was criticised because it played down the first cases. The virus spread to 37 countries, causing global panic, infecting almost 8,500 people and killing almost 1,000.