Last month, an outbreak of 2019-nCoV was reported in Chinese city of Wuhan. Believed to be a new strain within the coronavirus family, the virus can cause fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, it can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Over 600 people have been diagnosed with the virus, which has killed at least 18 people in China. As of Thursday, three Chinese cities - Wuhan, Huanggang, and Ezhou - have been placed in a temporary lockdown, restricting travel by trains, planes, and ferries.
In recent weeks, the virus has also been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. This week, a 30-year-old man was found to be infected in the state of Washington after returning from a trip to China.
A five-year-old boy, who had recently traveled to Wuhan, was admitted to the hospital in Cebu City, Philippines, for symptoms of the virus. The Philippines' Health Department said it is investigating the case. The boy, who is in stable condition, tested positive for a nonspecific pancoronavirus, and samples have been sent to Australia to identify the specific strain of the virus.
The virus was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec. 31. WHO said Thursday that while the situation constitutes an emergency in China, it has not yet reached the status of a global emergency, "given its restrictive and binary nature."
"We should exercise some extra vigilance because we are responsible also for the greater good of the majority. Let us do things swiftly but let us not create panic as well," Bishop Florencio stressed, according to the Manilla Bulletin.