Health minister Ma Xiaowei has told reporters that the coronavirus is infectious in its incubation period before any symptoms show – making it harder to contain
Ma Xiaowei confirmed that Fifty-six people have died from the virus that has spread to more than 2,000 people even with Wuhan in Hubei, the source of the outbreak, in effective lockdown ability of the virus to spread appeared to be strengthening.
Chinese officials say Several Chinese cities have imposed significant travel restrictions.
Officials announced that the sale of all wildlife in China would be banned from Sunday. The virus is thought to have originated in animals, but no cause has been officially identified.
In humans, the incubation period – during which a person has the disease, but no symptoms yet – ranges from between one and 14 days, officials believe.
Without symptoms, a person may not know they have the infection, but still be able to spread it.
This is a significant development in our understanding of the virus and the lengths China will have to go to, to stop it.
People with Sars (the last deadly coronavirus outbreak to hit China) and Ebola are contagious only when symptoms appear.
Such outbreaks are relatively easy to stop – identify and isolate people who are sick and monitor anyone they came into contact with.
Flu, however, is the most famous example of a virus that you spread before you even know you’re ill.
We are not at the stage where people are saying this could be a global pandemic like swine flu.
But stopping such “symptomless spreaders” will make the job of the Chinese authorities much harder.
There are still crucial questions – how infectious are people during the incubation period, and did any of the patients outside China spread the disease in those countries before becoming sick?
And why did China’s National Health Commission say the transmission ability of this virus is getting stronger?
The rapid spread of the disease coincides with the Lunar New Year festival, under normal circumstances one of the busiest travel periods in the Chinese calendar.
The government has announced it will extend the Lunar New Year holiday by three days to 2 February in a further effort to contain the outbreak.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, the disease spread to neighbouring cities and provinces in smaller numbers. By Saturday, cases were reported across China.
The authorities in Hong Kong have blocked visitors from Hubei entering the territory, except returning Hong Kong residents.
A small group of protesters set fire to the lobby of a building in Hong Kong that the authorities had earmarked for a quarantine centre. The plans now appear to have been dropped