Should Kent be anxious about China coronavirus?

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Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption"The risk of coronavirus to UK and Ireland is low- Dr Philip Veal Public Health Agency

On Wednesday, China's national health commission vice-minister Li Bin told reporters there was evidence of respiratory transmission of the virus from patient to patient.

City authorities also cancelled Lunar New Year events in the nation's capital as well as temple fairs "to strengthen prevention and support".

Another described being on the "verge of tears" when the de facto quarantine was announced, with the misery compounded by it coming on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday. Bus and train services have been suspended and entertainment venues including cinemas and internet cafes told to shut.

And highways were closed in neighbouring Xiantao, while public transport will be suspended from midnight in nearby Chibi.

Similar measures are being enforced in Huanggang, which has a population of six million.

The few people wandering in the streets of the city were wearing masks as mandated by police.

The virus has caused alarm in China and overseas because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which killed almost 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.

More than 570 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in China, while other cases have been reported in the US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The 17 people who died in China were aged between 48 and 89 and had pre-existing health conditions, Chinese health authorities said Thursday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was to hold a meeting Thursday to decide whether to declare a global health emergency - a rare instrument used only for the worst outbreaks.

"To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science", Gauden Galea, the WHO's representative in China, said in an interview.

"Without a special reason, city residents should not leave Wuhan", the central city's special command centre to combat the virus said on Thursday, according to state media. Only travelers holding tickets for the last trains out were allowed to enter.

"The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all United Kingdom cities with a large number of Chinese students".

Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the unprecedented lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically. The mysterious virus is thought to have originated in one of the city's fish markets.

Various sources have said the virus could have originated from the snakes or bats sold illegally at the market, though this has yet to be confirmed and differing reports are still being disputed. So, keeping 2019-nCoV under control is essential to prevent further spread.

"As there is no effective therapeutics or vaccines, the best way to deal with severe infections of CoVs is to control the source of infection, early diagnosis, reporting, isolation, supportive treatments, and timely publishing epidemic information to avoid unnecessary panic", the researchers write. According to Gulf News approximately 1,400 people are now under medical observation due to symptoms that might mean they are carrying the virus.

The size and population of Wuhan is comparable to London.

Now known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans. Additionally, anyone traveling from Wuhan to the U.S.is now being funneled through one of five airports - Atlanta, Chicago (O'Hare), Los Angeles, New York (JFK), and San Francisco - for screening.

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