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Spread of 2019 novel coronavirus, illustration. A new coronavirus (2019-CoV) emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. During January 2020, the virus spread throughout China and internationally. As of early February, 163 cases of the virus had been confirmed in 24 countries. In China there have been over 17,000 confirmed cases and more than 360 deaths. The virus causes a mild respiratory illness that can develop into pneumonia and be fatal in some cases.