Hong Kong declares emergency over coronavirus and closes schools

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Saturday her government is raising its response level to the highest level – emergency – and closing schools for two weeks, as authorities rush to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak. 

The outbreak, which started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has left 41 people dead in China. The country’s National Health Commission says 1,287 people are infected. 

Wuhan has been locked down for days, with public transportation halted and flights and trains out of the city suspended.  Lockdowns now embrace more than a dozen cities across China, affecting more than 50 million people, The Associated Press reports.

Despite efforts to prevent the outbreak from spreading, cases have cropped up overseas. The U.S. confirmed a second case of coronavirus on Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 60 people in 22 states are being monitored for possible infection

Authorities believe the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, moved into the human population from an infected animal at a market in 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 from another infected individual.

People wear masks after visiting Wong Tai Sin temple on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Rat in Hong Kong on January 25, 2020, as a preventative measure. DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images

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