The number of reported deaths from the new strain of coronavirus that has gripped China rose to 17 on Wednesday with more than 540 cases confirmed.
The previously unknown, flu-like coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged from an animal market in central Wuhan city, with cases now detected as far away as the United States.
WHO sounds alarm
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that there may have been limited human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak.
The organisation has given guidance to hospitals worldwide about infection prevention and control in case the new virus spreads. There is no specific treatment for the new virus, but anti-virals are being considered and could be “re-purposed”, said Maria Van Kerkhove, acting head of WHO’s emerging diseases unit.
With the Chinese New Year approaching on January 25, when many Chinese tourists visit Thailand, the WHO called on Thai authorities, the public and holidaymakers to be on alert.