As the number of cases in the coronavirus outbreak rises, its reach around the world is expanding.
The new flu-like virus strain is believed to have developed in a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in early December. Now, more than six weeks later, cases are being reported as far away as here in Canada. So far, the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious as some of its predecessors, such as SARS and MERS.
The number of cases, however, has risen quickly.
There have been hundreds of cases of the virus in the province of Hubei since the outbreak first gripped its capital city, Wuhan. So far, 76 people have died, and officials expect the number to rise.
Initially, the virus, which has no effective vaccine, seemed to only be circulating in China. It spread from Wuhan around China to highly populated areas like Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and, more recently, Hong Kong. More than 2,000 cases have been confirmed in mainland China alone, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others.
The virus has since fanned out, and the tallies are changing rapidly. It has been identified in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, France, Australia, the United States and, recently, Canada.
The following map shows where cases of the coronavirus were reported as of Friday, Jan. 27. The WHO is releasing situation reports periodically, but data from multiple sources are being consolidated into a live, interactive map, which can be found here.
At this point, officials are working on the assumption that the virus emerged from human exposure to wild animals being traded, possibly illegally, at a seafood market in Wuhan.
Compounding the concerns of a spread is the Lunar New Year, a time when millions of Chinese travellers visit family at home or abroad for a holiday break.
Measures are being taken at airports around the world to monitor and detect the virus, especially for those travellers coming from Wuhan.
While health officials say the risk for Canadians still remains low, precautions are being taken at a number of Canadian airports as well.
Chinese authorities have since locked down three cities in the Hubei province, keeping millions of people in quarantine. A number of events for the Lunar New Year have also been cancelled.
The WHO has decided against declaring the outbreak a global emergency for now. The organization acknowledged that the outbreak is clearly at an emergency level in China but said it “has not yet” become a global one.
“WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Emergency declarations lead to a boost of public health measures to contain the spread of the illness, as well as funding for the crisis. The WHO has only made five such declarations in the last decade.
— With files from Global News’ Leslie Young, the Associated Press and Reuters