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More than 1,200 cases of a new viral respiratory illness have been confirmed since an outbreak began last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Scientists have identified the illness as a new kind of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others have evolved into more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS, although so far the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious.
What’s new today
— Health authorities said the number of confirmed cases in China rose to more than 1,200 and the death toll climbed to 41.
— Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases and Japan identified a third one.
— Wuhan will ban vehicle use in downtown areas starting Sunday to try to restrict people from moving around. Taxis have been assigned to neighborhood committees to help those who need to get somewhere.
— Most of China’s provinces and cities declared a Level 1 public health alert, the highest emergency level.
— Hong Kong declared an emergency and announced a two-week school closure on top of the Lunar New Year break. Schools will reopen Feb. 17.