Here's the growing list of cities quarantined from the China coronavirus

Chinese auxiliary police officers wearing face masks for the prevention of the new coronavirus stand guard at Huai'an East Railway Station during the Spring Festival travel rush ahead of the Chinese New Year in Huai'an City east China's Ji

Chinese auxiliary police officers wearing face masks for the prevention of the new coronavirus stand guard at Huai'an East Railway Station during the Spring Festival travel rush ahead of the Chinese New Year in Huai'an City east China's Ji

"In order to control the epidemic, protect people's lives and health, reduce the mass gathering and ensure people to have a harmonious and peaceful Spring Festival, it is made a decision to cancel all the large-scale events, including temple fairs, in Beijing as of today", the government said in a statement seen by CNN.

Outbreak: The current epidemic, which started in mid-December and has already affected more than 500 people, with several fatalities, may have originated in an animal market in the city of Wuhan, a city of 11 million that Chinese authorities have put under quarantine.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Wuhan's train station and airport, which should have been packed with people travelling for holiday family reunions, were nearly empty except for workers on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are locking down three cities that are home to more than 18 million people.

According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Emergency Committee reviewing the situation was still divided over whether the outbreak was a public heath emergency of global concern after meeting for a second time this week. The Chinese authorities initially described the virus as a new type of pneumonia before realising what was happening, and it is spread in exactly the same way as flu and colds are - by droplet transmission, where infected micro-droplets of fluid are breathed in by people near an infected individual who coughs or sneezes beside them.

The open-ended lockdowns are unprecedented in size, embracing more people than the population of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined. Numerous early cases of the novel coronavirus were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan that also sold animals for meat.

World Health Organization country representative Gauden Galea tells The Associated Press that closing off a city of that size to try to stem an outbreak is new to science and that it's too early to gauge results. He commended the city's health workers and said he found them optimistic but cautious.

Zoonoses are diseases or infections that transmit from animals to humans.

"But if they came from Wuhan", he noted, "it's likely to be the new coronavirus". All 17 deaths related to the illness were in China.

Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. All of the deaths have been in the area in and around Wuhan.

One case has been confirmed in Washington state. One case was confirmed Thursday in Hong Kong after one was earlier confirmed in Macao. Federal health officials this week announced that a man who lives in Seattle but recently traveled to Wuhan was diagnosed with the illness, ultimately sparking fears there could be more cases in this country.

He added that while this is an "emergency in China" it has "not yet become a global health emergency".

On Wednesday, Public Health England began carrying out enhanced monitoring of direct flights from China - including Wuhan, although flights from there have now been stopped by the Chinese government.

The emergence of a global coronavirus outbreak from China is reminiscent of the SARS outbreak of 2002 to 2003, which went on to kill almost 800 people.

The SARS outbreak killed about 800 people, but it's unknown yet if this new illness could be as bad.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers. Stock benchmarks dropped in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

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