The virus, called 2019-nCoV, was first detected in the city of Wuhan, central China, at the end of 2018. Authorities have since confirmed that a few cases have spread to elsewhere in China, and that cases had also been detected away from mainland China: One in Japan, one in South Korea, one in Thailand, and on Tuesday, one was confirmed in Taiwan.
The virus is a coronavirus — which is one that infects the nose, throat, or sinuses — and has pneumonia-like symptoms. But the strain has never been seen by humans before, and remains mysterious as experts try and study it.
But authorities believe it originated in a meat and fish market in Wuhan.
The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, which was sealed off after being identified as the epicenter of a new virus.
Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
The World Health Organization said it will hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to declare “a public health emergency of international concern,” and what recommendations to make. It has previously declared such an emergency for swine flu and Ebola.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is screening incoming passengers from China at airports in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, as are health authorities in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo.