The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the number of American airports screening for the deadly Wuhan coronavirus to 20, the Atlanta-based organization said late Monday evening.
Previously, only five airports — including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International — were screening for the disease, which has killed more than 100 people worldwide. The airports that are adding screenings have not been identified by the CDC.
On Tuesday, the U.S. and several other nations began airlifting citizens out of a Chinese city at the center of a virus outbreak that has killed more than 100 people.
Hong Kong's leader said it will cut all rail links to mainland China and halve the number of flights as authorities in China and overseas sought to stem the spread of the new virus. The number of confirmed cases rose to more than 4,500.
The U.S. government chartered a plane to fly out diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, where the outbreak started, and other Americans. The plane will make a refueling stop in Alaska before flying on to Ontario, California, the U.S. Embassy said.
A Japanese-chartered Boeing 767 departed for Wuhan to fly out its citizens, the first of two possible flights, and South Korea also said it will send a plane to the city in central China. France, Mongolia and other governments also planned evacuations.
China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities in Hubei province to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The lockdown has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.
The Japanese flight was bringing 20,000 face masks as well as protective gear, all in short supply as hospitals grapple with a growing number of patients. The city is building two hospitals in a matter of days to add more than 2,000 beds.
U.S. health officials expanded their recommendation for people to avoid non-essential travel to any part of China, rather than just Wuhan and other areas most affected by the outbreak.
Asian stock markets tumbled for a second day, dragged down by worries about the virus’s global economic impact.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, wearing a green surgical mask, told a news conference that train service would stop at midnight Thursday and that the two stations connecting to the mainland would be closed.
She stopped short of a total closing of the border, as North Korea and Mongolia have done, but said ferry and bus service to the mainland would also be suspended.
China's death toll from the new viral disease rose to 106, including the first death in Beijing, the Chinese capital, and 24 others in Hubei province, where the first illnesses were detected in December.
There were 1,771 new cases confirmed in China, raising the national total to 4,515, according to the National Health Commission. It said 976 people were in serious condition.
Experts worry that the new virus may spread more easily than originally thought, or may have mutated into a form that does so. It is from the coronavirus family, which also can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS.
China has reported eight cases in Hong Kong and five in Macao, and more than 45 cases have been confirmed elsewhere in the world. Almost all involve mainland Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan.
Thailand reported six members of a family from Hubei were new cases, raising its total to 14. Taiwan confirmed three new cases Tuesday, including two 70-year-old tourists from Wuhan, raising its total to eight.
Infections also have been confirmed in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and Sri Lanka.
The five American cases — two in southern California and one each in Washington state, Chicago and Arizona — are people who had recently arrived from central China.
The virus is thought to have spread to people from wild animals sold at a Wuhan market. China on Sunday banned trade in wild animals and urged people to stop eating meat from them.
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