Germany, Japan, and Taiwan have all reported the first cases of a new SARS-like virus in people who haven’t recently visited China. The announcements, made on Tuesday, come as the number of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV worldwide reached 4,587 and the death toll hit 106.
The first person to contract the virus in Germany reportedly got it from a “Chinese colleague” while the two were attending a work training session in the state of Bavaria one week ago, according to German state media outlet DW. The 33-year-old patient, who’s from the town of Starnberg, roughly 18 miles from Munich, was infected by a woman who had been in Wuhan recently to visit her parents. The man, an employee of car parts supplier Webasto, is in a “medically good state,” reports DW.
In Japan, a man in his 60s has also contracted the new coronavirus, according to Japanese news outlet NHK. The unnamed man has not recently traveled to China, but reportedly works as a tour bus driver and came in contact with tourists from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, at least twice this month.
The Japanese patient lives in Nara prefecture in western Japan and first developed symptoms on January 14 and was hospitalized on January 25, according to the Strait Times. The man’s condition has not been released.
Taiwan, which has eight confirmed cases of the virus, also reported its first case of human-to-human transmission outside of China. The patient is a man in his 50s was infected by his wife who had recently been working in China. The man is in stable condition, according to a new report from Reuters. Taiwan has placed restrictions on people traveling from China and now bans the export of facemasks as it tries to control the spread of the new virus.
The latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that the likely incubation period for the virus is 2-10 days, slightly different from the 1-14 day range that had been estimated late last week.
The new report also notes the median age for cases outside of China is currently 45 years and roughly 71 percent of cases outside of China have been men, according to WHO. While most cases outside of China have been in older people, the youngest known case inside China has been a 9-month-old girl in Beijing—one of at least 68 confirmed cases in China’s capital city.
The World Health Organization still hasn’t declared the virus outbreak to be a “public health emergency of international concern,” or PHEIC. Twelve countries have confirmed cases of the virus but China has seen the only deaths so far.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that screening for the virus will be expanded to 20 U.S. airports, up from five airports that were doing testing earlier. The 20 U.S. airports now doing thermal screening receive roughly 90 percent of all inbound flights from China, according to CNN.
“We’ve screened somewhere around 2,400 people so far,” the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier said on a press call Monday. “And as you imagine, the number of people who are coming from Wuhan is declining with the aggressive closure of that city.”
The U.S. Stated Department updated its security warning on Monday advising U.S. residents to avoid any travel to China. Previously the State Department had only advised against travel to Wubei province, which contains Wuhan.
The start of spring classes for students in Wuhan has been delayed while the city is on lockdown but online classes for all students will begin on February 10, according to state media outlet CGTN.
Youku, China’s version of YouTube that’s owned by Alibaba, also announced on Monday that it would start offering free classes to students in the region, according to Abacus News. The company will use DingTalk, a Slack-like app, in an education program that already has over 50 schools participating.
Hong Kong officials announced new cases of the virus on Tuesday, and said that all train and ferry travel between Hong Kong and mainland China are being cut off starting January 30. The local government is also cutting the number of flights allowed from China in half.
Hong Kong banned masks last year as pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in an effort to fight political control from Beijing, which made it particularly ironic to see Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam wearing a facemask today at her press conference on the virus outbreak.
There are currently 8 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, which operates under a “one-country, two systems” form of semi-autonomy from China’s Communist government.
The U.S. stock market plunged Monday as investors tried to sell off investments that might be vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, recording the Dow’s worst trading day in three months. But it looks like stocks are poised to bounce back today.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded 85 points in premarket trading Tuesday. Some markets in Asia are still closed for the Lunar New Year and an estimated 50 million people are on lockdown in cities throughout China.
There are still just five confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., a number that hasn’t changed since yesterday, though at least 110 people in 26 states are still under observation. But we can expect that number to grow as everyone around the world seems to be on high alert for this new public health threat.
Update, 9:38 am ET: This article was updated with information about Taiwan.