On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of an outbreak of “pneumonia of unknown cause” detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China – the seventh-largest city in China with 11 million residents. By January 23, there was over 800 cases of 2019-nCoV confirmed globally, including cases in at least 20 regions in China and nine countries/territories. As of this writing, there are now 17,485 confirmed cases and 362 deaths!
The first reported infected individuals, some of whom showed symptoms as early as December 8, were discovered to be among stallholders from the Wuhan South China Seafood Market. Subsequently, the wet market was closed on Jan 1. The virus causing the outbreak was quickly determined to be a novel coronavirus. On January 10, gene sequencing further determined it to be the new Wuhan coronavirus, namely 2019-nCoV, a betacoronavirus, related to the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus (SARSCoV). However, the mortality and transmissibility of 2019-nCoV are still unknown, and likely to vary from those of the prior referenced coronaviruses.
Infected travelers (primarily air) are known to be responsible for introductions of the virus outside Wuhan and around the world. For those that are interested in tracking the spread of the coronavirus, check out this interactive map by Johns Hopkins University.