The Latest: WHO says China virus not global health emergencyJanuary 23, 2020 2:08pm

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

The World Health Organization says a viral illness in China that has sickened hundreds of people is not yet a global health emergency.

The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday and canceled major events in the capital, Beijing, during the Lunar New Year holiday period to try to contain the new virus.

The United Nations health agency announced the decision after independent experts spent two days assessing information about the spread of the newly identified coronavirus.

WHO defines a global emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. Previous global emergencies have been declared for the emergence of Zika virus in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic, and polio.

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous foreign governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. Deciding whether an outbreak amounts to an international crisis therefore can also be politically fraught.

In 2014, WHO resisted declaring the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa to be a global emergency because it feared the announcement would anger Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. When WHO made its last emergency declaration in July, related to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo, the Congolese health minister resisted the characterization and suggested the decision was made to raise funds “for certain humanitarian actors.”

Hundreds of people infected with the new virus have fallen ill in China, and 17 have died. The first cases appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub in central China.

Other cases have been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong reported their first cases Thursday.

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2:45 p.m.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry says a Chinese father and son, who were hospitalized on Wednesday with fevers, have tested positive with the new coronavirus. It said this marks the first such cases in Vietnam.

The ministry on Thursday said Li Ding, 66, from Wuhan, China arrived in Hanoi on Jan. 13 then traveled south to meet up with his 28-year-old son Li Zichao, who works in Vietnam. The two then went to Ho Chi Minh city.

The father got a fever on Jan. 17 and the son got the same symptoms three days later, according to Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sang, head of tropical diseases at Cho Ray hospital in Ho Chi Minh city. “The son has contracted the virus from his father,” the doctor was quoted as saying.

China, meanwhile, has decided to lock down three cities including Wuhan that are home to more than 18 million people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds.

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2 p.m.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health says the country has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan.

The ministry said late Thursday the man arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan. 20. It said the man is now in isolation in a hospital in the Southeast Asian city-state.

The statement said health officials are also investigating another suspected case, after a preliminary test for the virus was positive. That person is a 53-year-old woman from Wuhan.

China, meanwhile, has decided to lock down three cities including Wuhan that are home to more than 18 million people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds.

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3 a.m.

China has decided to lock down three cities that are home to more than 18 million people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain a deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries in the Lunar New Year travel rush.

Police, SWAT teams and paramilitary troops guarded Wuhan's train station, where metal barriers blocked the entrances at 10 a.m. sharp. Only travelers holding tickets for the last trains were allowed to enter, with those booked for later trains being turned away.

Normally bustling streets, shopping malls, restaurants and other public spaces in the city of 11 million people were eerily quiet. In addition to the train station, airport, ferry, subway and bus services were also halted.

Similar measures will take effect from Friday in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou.

In the capital Beijing, authorities canceled “major events" indefinitely, including traditional temple fairs that are a staple of Lunar New Year holiday celebrations,

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