Death Toll from New Coronavirus in China Rises to Nine

The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday on the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has now killed nine people and sickened hundreds more across China and beyond its border.The global health agency will consider whether the outbreak, which originated in the central city of Wuhan, should be declared a global health emergency.  The number of confirmed cases has risen to 440, including 15 medical workers, and has spread from Wuhan into Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, as well as Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and the United States, which announced its first case Tuesday in the northwest state of Washington.  Health officials there said a man who returned to Seattle from Wuhan last week is hospitalized in good condition with pneumonia.Chinese health experts say they know little about the new strain, dubbed 2019-nCoV. They suspect the outbreak started in a Wuhan seafood market, which also sold other animals such as poultry, bats, marmots, and wild game meat.  China’s National Health Commission announced Monday that the virus, which causes a type of pneumonia, can be transmitted person-to-person and not just from animals to people.  Airports around the world have begun screening travelers from Wuhan for any detection of the virus.  Health experts are especially concerned about the chance of a pandemic as millions of Chinese citizens plan to travel across the country and overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday that starts Saturday.A coronavirus is one of a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS, which also started in China, killed nearly 800 people globally during an outbreak nearly 20 years ago.

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