China is reporting another 15 deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the toll from the disease to 41, and an additional 180 people sickened in central Hubei province.
The new figures, announced by officials in Hubei province, brought the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus to more than 1,000.
The development came as France announced three cases of the virus, marking the first confirmed diagnoses in Europe.
French health officials said Friday that two of the cases involved patients who had recently traveled from China, while the third person was a relative of one of the initial patients.
Canada reported its first confirmed case on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Second US case
Also Friday, U.S. health officials reported a second patient infected with the virus, a woman from Chicago, Illinois, who returned January 13 from Wuhan, where the epidemic is believed to have started.
The woman, who is in her 60s, reportedly is doing well but is hospitalized “primarily for infection control,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner.
People who had close contact with the woman were being monitored.
The U.S. announced its first case Tuesday in the northwestern state of Washington. Health officials there said a man who returned to Seattle from Wuhan last week was hospitalized in good condition, but had pneumonia.
Medical authorities say it’s likely additional cases will be identified in the near term because the virus apparently has a two-week incubation period.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 2,000 travelers returning to U.S. soil had been screened at U.S. airports, and 63 patients in 22 states were being tested. Of those being tested, 11 thus far have been found to be free of the virus.
The Pentagon said Friday that it had no indication “of outbreaks that would affect our personnel.” However, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said U.S. base commanders were monitoring the situation “particularly in the Indo-Pacific region” and “have the authority to take additional action if they need to.”
Cities locked down, Disney closes
The Chinese government isolated more cities Friday, an unprecedented move to contain the coronavirus, which has spread to other countries.
At least 10 cities, and a total of at least 33 million people, have been put on lockdown — Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang, Jingmen, Xiantao, Xiaogan and Huangshi, all in Hubei province — on the eve of the Lunar New Year, when millions of Chinese traditionally travel.
Shanghai Disney Resort announced on its website that it is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, a major tourist attraction during Lunar New Year, “in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety” of guests and cast.
The municipal authorities of Wuhan said Friday that the city was building a new 1,000-bed hospital, expected to be completed by February 3.
On Thursday, authorities banned planes and trains from leaving Wuhan. Toll roads were closed, and ferry, subway and bus services were also suspended.
Wuhan authorities have demanded that all residents wear masks in public and urged government and private sector employees to wear them in the workplace, according to the Xinhua news agency, which cited a government official.
Similar measures were taken hours later in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou.
The government also canceled holiday events in Beijing that usually attract large crowds.
Fifteen medical workers are among those who have been infected by the virus, which has spread from Wuhan to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province. Most of the cases have been in China, but cases have also been reported in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Nepal, France and the United States.
US working on vaccine
Scientists at the U.S. Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, are working on developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.
“It will take at least three months to complete the first phase of development,” said Dr. Lily Dai, a researcher at the institute. She spoke with VOA’s Mandarin service as an individual scientist, not as an NIH representative.
Dai said that after the first phase of development, researchers will test the vaccine on people for another three months to determine if it is safe.
Forest Cong of VOA’s Mandarin service contributed to this report.