A total of 201 people have now been diagnosed with the virus in China, and the outbreak has already claimed three lives.
Fontanet said that the coronavirus appears to be "weaker" than SARS in its current form, but cautioned that it could mutate into a more virulent strain. However, no human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far.
The SARS virus spread readily through close person-to-person contact.
A group of scientists looking into the origins of the outbreak have concluded that humans received the virus from snakes sold at the market, according to an early study published in the Journal of Medical Virology.
The coronavirus family includes six other strains known to infect humans.
"To further protect the health of the American public during the emergence of this novel coronavirus, CDC is beginning entry screening at three ports of entry", said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of CDC's division of global migration and quarantine, in a statement. They say it led to an outbreak of viral pneumonia, but much about it remains unknown. The World Health Organization says it's "not unexpected" for cases to be found elsewhere and called on other countries to monitor for signs.
Almost three-quarters of people infected are over the age of 40, with 40 per cent of sufferers already having existing underlying conditions.
Health authorities are monitoring the patients in Wuhan and their close contacts to help manage the outbreak. Last Saturday, a 61-year-old man who had abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease died.
Fox News Flash top headlines for January 17 are here. Li, the health commission official, said measures were being taken to monitor and detect infected people from Wuhan, and that people should avoid going to the city, and people from the city should stay put for now.
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