As Chinese media reported, some of those infected were employed at a market selling seafood and live animals that have since been closed for disinfection. The Wuhan health authority also reports there is still no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
In Hong Kong, authorities say 30 people have been hospitalised after returning from Wuhan in recent days and displaying flu-like illnesses but none were confirmed to have contracted the mystery new strain. The flights operate between Yangon International Airport and 18 cities in China.
In Hong Kong, hospitals have raised their alert level to "serious" and stepped up detection measures including temperature checkpoints for inbound travelers.
The microbiologist stressed that tests conducted in Hong Kong are reliable and that healthcare staff and citizens should cooperate to identify potential victims of Wuhan-linked pneumonia as soon as possible and make them undergo a test.
According to Xinhua Net, a total of 59 coronavirus-related pneumonia cases were reported as of late on Sunday, January 5.
Coronavirus is a common type of virus; most of the time, it is responsible for mild common colds involving the sinuses and nose. "They haven't made public the genetic sequence, because it is highly contagious".
He said all the six coronaviruses were originated from bats, while SARS and MERS were spread to humans from masked palm civets and camels, respectively.
Repeated calls to various numbers listed for the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences rang unanswered.
However, an employee who identified herself as a senior engineer said she knew nothing about the virus.
"I don't know how you know that at all", Frieman said of China's claim there is no person-to-person transmission.
None of the Hong Kong patients had visited the seafood market in Wuhan where some of the mainland Chinese patients worked.
Preliminary investigations by the Chinese authorities, as reported by the World Health Organization and media outlets, traced the origins of the mystery illness to a seafood market in Wuhan City in central China, where some patients were operating as dealers or vendors.
On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health warning advising doctors treating patients with pneumonia to consider a possible link with the Chinese outbreak and to wear masks and other precautions when treating patients recently traveled to Wuhan.
However, calls to the Wuhan municipal health commission rang unanswered during office hours on.
Symptoms of coronaviruses, which can spread through coughing or sneezing or by touching an infected person, include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever.
During the SARS outbreak, it was determined that palm civets, a wild animal eaten as a delicacy in southern China, were transmitting the virus.