The virus is believed to be animal in origin having jumped from animals to humans, with Chinese authorities having linked initial cases to a fish market in Wuhan.
But, until this weekend, there were reasons to be optimistic that the new outbreak could be easily managed. Fifteen medical personnel are among those infected.
Chinese authorities confirmed a total of 217 cases of the virus in China from 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Monday, reported the state television, of which 198 in Wuhan. Zhong is leading a government-appointed expert panel on the outbreak.
At the moment, China's state-run media has said that 218 cases of the virus confirmed, while that number seems low it's an important factor to remember is that China controls their media, so this number is likely much higher. Some patients haven't had any exposure to the animal market, which, the CDC reported indicates the virus is spreading through human contact, as well.
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The CDC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had previously announced the implementation of "enhanced health screenings" for airline passengers arriving from or traveling through the Wuhan province of China amid a mysterious viral outbreak in the region.
The outbreak initially raised concerns about the highly contagious SARS virus, which killed hundreds of people in 2002 and 2003, but public health officials ruled it out as the cause. The U.S.is the fifth country to report seeing the illness, following China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.
Besides Wuhan and Guangdong in mainland China, Chinese health officials have now reported cases in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
Of the new cases announced in the past few days, all involve adults ages 25 to 89.
The World Health Organisation began responding to cases of unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan, central China, on December 31, 2019.
Meanwhile, more countries stepped up medical screening of travellers from China, particularly those from Wuhan.