Nations around the world are preparing for a possible major outbreak of a new deadly virus. The coronavirus, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has already killed 17 people. It has spread to the USA, Japan, Korea and Thailand. More than 540 people have caught the virus and are in hospital. The World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting to decide whether the outbreak is a global health emergency. China is urging people not to panic ahead of the Chinese New Year next week. Millions of Chinese will be travelling across the country to spend the holiday season with their families. Meanwhile, the city of Wuhan has suspended its public transport systems to help stop the spread of the virus.
The new coronavirus is suspected to have come from illegally traded animals in a Wuhan market. The virus mutated and spread from an animal to a human. There are fears it could mutate and spread further. Scientists say the virus is contagious and can be passed from person to person through the air. Dr Linfa Wang, a virologist at the Duke-National University of Singapore, said the new coronavirus is in the same family as SARS, but it’s different from SARS. He said people needed to look for pneumonia-like symptoms, such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Fu Ning, a 36-year-old woman from Beijing, said: «I feel fearful because there’s no cure for the virus.»