The toll from the Wuhan coronavirus in China has risen to six deaths, with the first case being reported in the United States on Tuesday, sending markets tumbling on fears of economic damage as tourists canceled travel plans and airports stepped up screening, reported Reuters.
The virus struck as millions of Chinese prepared to travel for the Lunar New Year, heightening contagion risks. Many in China scrambled to buy face masks to protect themselves from the previously unknown, flu-like infection.
The outbreak, which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, also worried financial markets as investors recalled China’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2002-2003, a coronavirus outbreak that killed nearly 800 people.
“We’ll stay at home during the holiday. I’m scared as I remember SARS very well,” said Zhang Xinyuan, who had been bound from Beijing for the Thai resort of Phuket before she and her husband decided to cancel their air tickets.