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CDC Closely Monitoring Coronavirus Outbreak As WHO Convenes Emergency Meeting

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new variety of coronavirus named "2019-nCoV" that killed 17 people and infected hundreds of others in China.

The World Health Organization has convened an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee meeting Thursday to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it.

First detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, pneumonia has been confirmed in a number of other countries, including the United States, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

On January 21 the United States announced their first infection with 2019-nCoV, detected in a man in his 30s who returned to Washington from Wuhan. CDC confirmed the diagnosis in laboratory testing.

The federal health agency said it has developed a diagnostic test to detect this virus in clinical specimens, accelerating the time it takes to detect infection. Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC, but in the coming days and weeks, CDC will share these tests with domestic and international partners.

The United States is actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan. Public health entry screening has started at San Francisco, New York's JFK and Los Angeles international airports.

This week, CDC will add entry health screening at two more airports - Atlanta and Chicago.

A CDC team has been deployed to support the ongoing investigation in the state of Washington, including potentially tracing close contacts to determine if anyone else has become ill.

While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It's unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.

Symptoms associated with this virus have included fever, cough and trouble breathing.

The confirmation that this virus is spreading among human beings in some cases in Asia raises the level of concern, but CDC said it continues to believe the risk of new coronavirus to the American public at large remains low at this time.

Learning from previous experience of MERS and SARS, CDC said more cases are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days.

It has issued a travel health notice to people traveling to Wuhan City to avoid contact with sick people, animals, and animal markets. Chinese authorities have confirmed 544 cases so far, but a recent study estimates the actual number of people infected with the deadly disease could be much higher than reported.

They have started exit screening for travelers leaving Wuhan, while many other countries and territories in the region have reportedly implemented health screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan.

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