Here are the top 10 facts on the coronavirus outbreak:
Authorities today announced public transport services including train stations in Xianning, Xiaogan, Enshi and Zhijiang cities -- all located in Hubei province where the virus first emerged -- would be closed. China also plans to close a section of the Great Wall and other famous Beijing landmarks to control the spread of a deadly virus.
The travel lockdown -- which comes amid the Lunar New Year -- reflects mounting fears that the coronvirus outbreak could give rise to a pandemic. Shanghai Disneyland -- Disney's sixth amusement park and third in Asia -- has announced that it would temporarily close from Saturday due to the virus outbreak.
China is rushing to build a 1,000 bed hospital in a staggering 10 days to treat patients infected by the virus, state media reported Friday. The facility in the central city of Wuhan is expected to be in use by February 3, reports said. A similar exercise in 2003 saw a hospital being made operational in barely a week to treat patients suffering from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which killed over 300 in mainland China.
According to media reports, the virus has spread outside mainland China, with cases detected as far away as the United States. While Scotland confirmed that five people were tested for suspected coronavirus after traveling from Wuhan, Hong Kong reported two cases of the virus and Singapore confirmed its first.
"This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said recently, refusing to declare the disease as a global health emergency.
Countries have already increased efforts to stop the spread of the pathogen -- known by its technical name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) -- with thermal screening of all passengers arriving from China at airports in a number of countries. A total of 12,828 passengers coming to India have been screened for coronavirus infection till January 22 but no positive case has been detected in the country so far, the Union health ministry has said.
Several companies have also begun exploring developing a vaccine for the virus, with hopes that initial clinical trials could be carried out within months.
Wuhan, a major industrial and transport hub of 11 million people in the centre of the country, has been rendered a ghost town by China's imposition of an unprecedented transport quarantine around it and nearby cities.
Wuhan has large number of Indians, mostly students studying medicine in different Chinese universities. While many of them were believed to have left home for the Chinese New Year holidays, others remained in the city to complete their academic work. However, the exact number is not yet known.
The new virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS, which killed 349 people in mainland China and 299 in Hong Kong in 2002-03.