Coronavirus: Deadly Virus Spreads Through 'Coughs & Sneezes,' Officials Confirm
Killer Chinese virus is spreading through coughing, sneezing and shaking hands
The deadly Chinese coronavirus, that has so far infected over 800 globally, leaving 25 people dead, is being spread through "coughing and sneezing" and even "shaking hands," health officials have confirmed.
After originating from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, the new killer virus is rapidly spreading across Asia, with cases now reported in the United States and the UK.
The SARS-like virus is far more contagious than previously feared after medics confirmed Friday that it can be spread third-hand via a simple cough or sneeze.
25 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and over 830 have been infected in at least 10 different countries.
Experts predict, however, that the true number of people with the disease could be as many as 10,000 as they warn that 2 percent of those who contract the virus will die.
In China, nine cities and towns are now in lockdown as officials struggle to contain the deadly new coronavirus and to stop it from spreading further.
Major Chinese New Year events in Beijing have been canceled, authorities in Ezhou have shut down train stations, and Huanggang has announced it will suspend public buses and trains.
The development comes as Wuhan – the city at the center of the outbreak – remains in lockdown, with all flights in and outbound canceled, residents banned from leaving and scenes of chaos as desperate families fight for food supplies.
Chinese officials are disinfecting whole streets and parks with clouds of gas and chilling footage has emerged of roadside quarantine tents, hastily erected to isolate suspected cases.
One resident told the BBC the atmosphere in the city felt like "the end of the world."
Concerned medics were seen wheeling a suspected patient out of the airport in Fuzhou in south-eastern China in an elaborate see-through quarantine pod.
Singapore and Vietnam have today announced they have recorded cases of the infection.
The World Health Organization is facing increasing pressure to declare the crisis a public health emergency - like it has done for Ebola and Zika in the past.
Health chiefs will meet again later today to make a final verdict.
Dr. David Heymann, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Thursday: "We are now seeing second and third generation spread," CNN reported.
Third generation spread means people are catching it from others who also caught it from a person, not the original animal source.
In the US, authorities in Washington state are monitoring at least 16 people who they say had close contact with a man there who is recovering from coronavirus after catching it in China.
President Donald Trump insisted earlier this week that the country wasn't concerned about the outbreak and added: "We have it totally under control.
"We do have a plan, and we think it's going to be handled very well."
In China, the government is being forced to take more drastic measures and nine towns and cities home to more than 20million people are now effectively in quarantine.
Officials yesterday banned Wuhan's 11million residents from traveling and ordered them to wear face masks in public to control the spread of the SARS-like infection.
Clips posted on Twitter claim to show the impact the unprecedented decision has had in Wuhan, with deserted streets reminiscent of the virus-based apocalypse movie 28 Days Later.
Traffic has piled up on the city's major roads, which have been blocked by police vans enforcing travel bans.
In one video an eerily quiet street is seen being "disinfected," with billowing fumes filling the air, while another shows huge 'quarantine tents' lining a neighborhood.
Another clip reportedly shows an airline passenger being wheeled out of an airport in a quarantine box, amid suspicions he has the coronavirus.
Wearing a protective suit, a mask, and gloves, the man allegedly showed symptoms during screening and was isolated from other travelers.
Social media users complained that shops have bumped up the price of fresh produce and shoppers have been seen physically fighting a crowded supermarket.
The virus, which goes by the name of nCoV2019, emerged in Wuhan in December from a food market and spread to other countries by travelers.
Wuhan has been put in lockdown ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday when thousands of people were expected to travel.
Chinese state media said Wuhan had its train stations and airport closed, while ferries and long-distance buses have also been stopped.