The World Health Organisation (WHO) has admitted an error in its assessment of Wuhan coronavirus risk on Monday, declaring a "high" risk on a global level. The Geneva-based organization added that the amendment of the global risk assessment does not mean that an international health emergency has been declared.
The virus emerged late last year, and it is believed to have initially passed from animals to humans. The first cases were reported in people working at the wholesale seafood market in Wuhan, China.
The respiratory infections had already killed at least 106 people as of Tuesday, all of them in China. More than 4,500 others have been infected in numerous countries worldwide, including five officially confirmed cases in the United States.
Also, more than 100 people across 26 states were being tested for the virus. The five American cases - two in California and one each in Washington state, Chicago, and Arizona - are people who had traveled to China recently.
According to public health officials, the number of infected people worldwide will keep increasing. A leading British infectious disease specialist added that the disease is transmitted by people who have no symptoms, so the actual number of cases could reach 100,000.
In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, China has locked down more than 15 cities, including Wuhan. Nearly 1,000 US citizens are stuck in Wuhan, awaiting to get seats on a U.S. government-funded flight set to leave the city early Wednesday.
The British Foreign Office also confirmed the country is joining the rapidly growing list of nations exploring options to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. About 300 British nationals are living in the city, the government confirmed.
Japan and South Korea also announced they would send planes to Wuhan this week to evacuate their citizens. France, Mongolia, and other countries are also planning evacuations.
The United States and several other countries have been screening passengers arriving from China. As of Tuesday, some neighboring countries began imposing further restrictions. For instance, Russia said it would close its borders with China entirely.
Wearing a surgical mask, Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam, announced Tuesday that Hong Kong would cut all rail ties with mainland China. The train service would stop at midnight Thursday, Lam said, adding that the two stations would remain closed until further notice.
The U.S. health officials once again confirmed that the virus is not spreading widely across the country, and the risk remains low. Do you think the government should take more precautions?