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Coronaviruses mutate easily and can jump from animals to humans. Wuhan, population 11 million was locked down yesterday. 8,000 busses and all subline lines in Wuhan are now shut down.

Huanggang, a city of about 7.5 million people, about 35 miles east of Wuhan is now quarantined.

And the list keeps growing.

What We Know

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This is What We Know About the Wuhan Coronavirus.

What is a coronavirus?

The Wuhan virus belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses. These viruses, named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces, infect mostly pigs, cats and other animals. But they mutate easily and can jump from animals to humans, and from one human to another. In recent years, they have become a growing player in infectious-disease outbreaks world-wide.

How is the virus spread among humans?

Seven strains are known to infect humans, including the virus in Wuhan. They can be spread by coughing, kissing or making contact with saliva, Chinese officials say. Four of the strains cause common colds. Two other strains, however, have been extremely deadly: Severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, are coronaviruses.

What are the symptoms of illness and how do you know if you have it?

Patients have had a fever, cough and other symptoms of pneumonia. Public-health officials have developed diagnostic tests, which are being used to confirm whether a patient has the Wuhan coronavirus or another infection. Five major airports in the U.S. are screening arriving international travelers for fever; those who have one are then screened for other symptoms.

More Cities Locked Down

The Wall Street Journal reports Spreading Coronavirus Prompts Lockdown of More Chinese Cities.

Two more Chinese cities were put on lockdown by the government on Thursday, as authorities in the Chinese gambling center of Macau said they were weighing closures of its casinos, expanding an unprecedented experiment to try to contain a fast-spreading virus that has killed 17 people and infected more than 600.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declined to declare the outbreak a global public health emergency, saying it wasn’t yet a public health emergency beyond China.

On Thursday, authorities in Huanggang—a Chinese city of 7.5 million people—said they wouldn’t let long-distance trains and buses run from the urban center and would shut its public transportation system in the lockdown zone, effective midnight Friday local time. Ezhou, another neighboring city with just over a million residents, said it would enact similar restrictions, bringing the total number of cities with travel restrictions to three.

Separately, the chief executive of Macau, the Chinese special administrative region that is the world’s biggest gambling market, said Thursday he was considering closing all of the territory’s 40-some casinos, following the confirmation of a second coronavirus infection case there, government-run broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

Seven Cities

Articles get out of date quickly. The WSJ article says 3 cities are quarantined.

ZeroHedge reports China On Edge Of Chaos: "7 Cities, 23 Million People Under Quarantine"

The numbers keep growing.

Quarantine Cage

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Flights out of Wuhan are now canceled.

Areas Impacted

A U.S. citizen who recently returned from central China has been diagnosed with the new virus, the CDC said Tuesday

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MarketWatch explains why the mysterious illness from China continues to spread so quickly.

The pneumonia-causing virus has spread in China, helped by the country’s Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday. “This is the wild card,” the Associated Press reported. “People unfamiliar with China have trouble understanding the immense travel phenomenon that occurs during Lunar New Year, when, over a one-month period, some 3 billion people are on the move, many returning to their home towns and regions but others vacationing. Peak travel occurs this week.”

Another reason for the rapid spread: While some people are canceling travel plans in China and opting to stay home over the holiday period, others may not yet have experienced the worst of the symptoms, believe themselves to be well enough to travel and/or could be reluctant to pay up to $400 to change a flight — especially if they believe they merely have a common cold. In fact, previous iterations of the coronavirus are very similar to a common cold.

People may not know they’re carrying the virus, and doctors don’t yet know how long it takes to develop. “If you knew the incubation period, you could do quarantining of people who are in close contact with infected patients,” Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, told The Wall Street Journal. “You would monitor those people for the incubation period.” Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell, according to the CDC.

Nasty bugs like coronaviruses can last for days on objects. The sinister sounding Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (more commonly known as MRSA) lasted longest (168 hours) on material from a seat-back pocket while the bacteria Escherichia coli O157:H7 (also known as E.coli, which can cause kidney problems) survived longest (96 hours) on the material from the armrest of planes, according to research presented in 2014 to the American Society for Microbiology.

Escape From Containment

Canada Too

Collapsing on the Street

Understanding the Scale

  • The population of Chicago is 2.7 million.
  • The Chicago metro area population is 9.5 million.
  • The population of New York City is 8.6 million.
  • The New York City metro area population is 20.1 million.
  • The population of London is 8.8 million
  • The London metro area population is 13.7 million.
  • The population of Illinois is 12.7 million

To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science. It has not been tried before as a public-health measure, so we cannot at this stage say it will or will not work,” Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization’s country representative for China, said in an interview.

Tom Inglesby, an expert on epidemics who is director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said “large-scale quarantine efforts in the past have not been successful in changing the outcome of disease outbreaks.”

Because of its key role in domestic transportation, Wuhan is sometimes referred to as "the Chicago of China" by foreign sources.

So far there have only been 17 deaths. But little is known about the disease.

Imagine halting all trains and planes flying from Chicago. This is what's going on in China.

Locking down 23 million people is a very big deal.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock