Coronavirus cases rise to nearly 650 worldwide as new countries confirm infections


Travelers wearing face masks stand in line inside the departure hall at West Kowloon Station, operated by MTR Corp., in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Coronavirus, which has killed 17 people in China, infected at least 648 people around the world, including the first in Singapore, according to reports Thursday.

The number of cases in China rose to 634, Reuters reported, citing China state television.

Local authorities in China have quarantined at least two major cities — Wuhan and Huanggang,
with a combined population of 17 million — and planned a similar lockdown for Ezhou, a city of 1 million, on Friday. The New York Times reported that travel bans were in effect for five cities, including Wuhan where the virus was first flagged to world health officials on Dec. 31. The state has also canceled events in Beijing for Saturday’s Lunar New Year amid worries about the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organization is reconvening an emergency meeting in Geneva on Thursday, after postponing its decision on whether to designate the new virus as a global health emergency.

U.S. health officials began screening passengers flying from China at major international airports this weekend. An NBC affiliate in Los Angeles reported Thursday morning that someone was quarantined at the airport there after showing symptoms of the virus. The passenger was on an American Airlines flight from Mexico City and taken to the hospital, according to KNBC. There was no confirmation that the passenger was infected, and the Los Angeles International Airport didn’t immediately respond for comment.

The previously unknown, flu-like coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged from an animal market in central Wuhan city, with cases now detected across Asia and as far away as the United States.

Here are where cases have been reported:

Mainland China: 634
Hong Kong: 2
Macau: 1
Taiwan: 1
Singapore: 1
South Korea: 1
Japan: 1
Thailand: 4
United States: 1
Vietnam: 2

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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