The Wuhan coronavirus has killed at least 17 people in China. The first case has reached the United States. A fear of a worldwide outbreak seems eminent.
What should you do?
Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, the World Health Organization says.
Other symptoms of this coronavirus include fever and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.
Scientists believe this coronavirus started in another animal and then spread to humans. So health officials recommend cooking meat and eggs thoroughly.
Anyone with underlying medical conditions should avoid live animal markets and raw meats altogether, since those people are “considered at higher risk of severe disease,” the World Health Organization says says.
But, in general, the public should do “what you do every cold and flu season,” said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state — where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.
That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If you’re the one feeling sick, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.
If you or your doctor suspect you might have the Wuhan coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises wearing a surgical mask.
What could happen next
The WHO had an emergency meeting Wednesday to decide whether to declare this virus a “public health emergency of international concern.”
That designation would include global recommendations for helping stop the virus.
Such recommendations could include cross-border screening, increased surveillance or even quarantine measures for those affected, similar to quarantine rules already in place in China.
But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus postponed the decision.
“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,” he said Wednesday evening.
“This an evolving and complex situation.”
WHO officials are expected to meet again Thursday to continue the discussion.
CNN’s Michael Nedelman, Jen Christensen, Meera Senthilingam, Steven Jiang and Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.