BREAKING: The first person-to-person transmission of coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States. Federal health officials said the patient has been in regular close contact with the Chicago woman who was the second confirmed case in the United States and who had traveled to Wuhan, China.  This is a developing story and will be updated.
China added more than 1,500 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday as countries stepped up their efforts to evacuate their citizens trapped in Wuhan, at the epicenter of the growing outbreak.
The United States has announced new flights to Wuhan, with many Americans in the city expressing frustration over being stuck there. Some 50 million people in Hubei Province have been restricted to their region as authorities try to stem the spread of the virus. Japan has already sent a second flight to Wuhan, and a third is planned.
With experts saying a vaccine is still a long way off, more international cases of the illness appeared Thursday. Australia, Vietnam and South Korea all announced new coronavirus infections, while India and the Philippines had their first ones.
The World Health Organization will reconvene its emergency committee Thursday to determine whether the coronavirus outbreak amounts to a public health emergency of international concern, as the total number of people infected in mainland China surpassed those infected with SARS during the 2002-2003 epidemic. Here’s what we know so far:
● Chinese officials say the death toll in the country has reached 171, with more than 8,1oo confirmed cases of infection as of Thursday evening local time — an increase of more than 1,900 from the previous day. (The figures include nine cases in the self-governing island of Taiwan.)
● About 100 cases have been recorded outside mainland China, and four other countries have reported person-to-person transmission of the virus.
● Roughly 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan landed in California on Wednesday, while Russia is closing its entire 2,615-mile border with China.
● Global markets declined sharply Wednesday as investors weighed the spread of the coronavirus.
● Infections also have been confirmed in France, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Cambodia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Taiwan, Canada and Sri Lanka. We’re mapping the spread here.