The Center for Disease Control reported on Tuesday the first confirmed case of a new coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since infected over 300 people, causing six deaths.
A man in Washington state has been diagnosed with the virus. The individual had recently traveled to Wuhan, and U.S. officials commented that it was expected that Americans would be infected with the virus at some point.
Chinese authorities said the virus spreads from person to person and does not depend on animal transmission. China is gearing up for the lunar new year celebration later this week when thousands of citizens will travel to see their families, raising fears the virus could spread further. However, the CDC said the virus was not as easily transmitted as common flu or measles.
“We recommend outsiders not come to Wuhan and also that Wuhan residents not leave Wuhan without a special reason,” the city’s mayor Zhou Xianwang told state TV on Tuesday.
The Wuhan virus causes pneumonia-like symptoms and is from the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that killed hundreds of people in 2002 and 2003. That outbreak similarly originated in China, although the Wuhan virus appears less deadly, according to experts cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Other cases of the virus have so far been reported in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. North Korea has closed its borders to tourists as a preventive measure, while Australian officials said they would check passengers that arrive from Wuhan by direct flight.