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China Virus Deaths Rise to 17, Heightening Global Alarm

BEIJING/SHANGHAI—Deaths from China’s new viral pneumonia rose to 17 on Jan. 22, heightening global fears of contagion from an infection suspected to have come from animals.

The previously unknown and contagious coronavirus strain emerged from the central city of Wuhan, with cases now detected as far away as the United States.

Officials believe the origin to be a market where wildlife is traded illegally.

The latest death toll in Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, had risen to 17 by 1200 GMT on Wednesday, state television quoted the provincial government as saying.

Hours earlier, officials had put the toll at nine dead, all in Wuhan City, and more than 470 cases confirmed in China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) began an emergency meeting to rule if the outbreak was a global health emergency.

After official appeals to stay calm, many Chinese were cancelling trips, buying face masks, avoiding public places such as cinemas and shopping centers, and even turning to an online plague simulation game or watching disaster movie “The Flu” as a way to cope.

“The best way to conquer fear is to confront fear,” said one commentator on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

The virus has spread from Wuhan around China to population centers including Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong.

Abroad, Thailand has confirmed four cases, while the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have each reported one.

FULL REPORT