China Reports 17 New Cases of Mysterious Virus

Some experts have suggested that there are most likely far more cases of the illness than the authorities have disclosed. In previous incidents, including during the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, the Chinese government has withheld critical information, drawing widespread criticism.

One estimate on by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London suggested that there could be as many as 1,700 cases.

The new virus has brought back memories in China of the SARS outbreak, which was also caused by a coronavirus. That virus, which is believed to have jumped to humans from animals at markets, originated in China and was spread to other countries by travelers, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 800.

While the new coronavirus so far seems to be less severe than SARS, public health officials around the world are exercising caution.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States announced that airports in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles would begin screening passengers from Wuhan for the virus.

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