NEW CASES OF the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak are being reported thick and fast. On January 20, an additional 77 confirmed cases were posted, taking the total to 291 (Update: 440, with an additional 149 new cases confirmed on January 21) in China with 54 suspected instances. The death toll has reached six (Update: nine), all in or around Wuhan.
Additional international cases have now been detected in Taiwan and the United States, with another suspected in Australia. All are travellers who have recently been in Wuhan. North Korea is reportedly intending to shut its borders to foreign tourists to stop the infection spreading in a country whose health services are under extreme stress from international sanctions.
The World Health Organization is due to meet on January 22 to decide whether to label the outbreak an international health emergency. Meanwhile, investors are starting to get nervous about the economic impact of the outbreak.
Beijing is putting in place measures for monitoring and control of the outbreak, such as travel restrictions and mass quarantine, that would be impossible to impose at scale in Western countries. Ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, people have been told not to leave or travel to Wuhan.
Authorities are also cracking down on the trade in wild animals, believed to be the cause of the outbreak at a large market in Wuhan, and warning local officials of the consequences of any cover-ups.