China coronavirus outbreak: Death toll hits 26 as Chinese cities locked down and U.S. tests 12 possible cases

National News

A security officer wears a hazardous materials suit at a subway station in Beijing, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. China moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year holiday. (AP Photo/Yanan Wang)

(CBS News)– Authorities in China raced Friday to lock down more cities in an extraordinary bid to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has left at least 26 people dead in the country and sickened hundreds more. The move is unprecedented and affects more than 30 million people.

The U.S. has confirmed one case, and there were 12 other patients being tested for the virus in the U.S. as of Friday morning.

Authorities believe the new coronavirus, which causes flu-like symptoms, moved into the human population from an infected animal at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. 

Chinese health officials and the World Health Organization confirmed this week that the virus has been transmitted person-to-person, but it remains unclear how easy it is to contract it from another infected individual. The WHO on Thursday declined to declare the virus a global public health emergency, saying it was still too soon to take that measure.

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