Coronavirus: Death toll continues to climb, 6 things you need to know

More than a dozen people have died and hundreds of others have been sickened by a new viral outbreak first reported last month in China.

Cases of the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan, a city with a population of more than 11 million, according to The Associated Press. The virus has since sickened more than 600 people and claimed at least 17 lives, CNN reported.

Health officials have confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand, the AP reported.

Update 8:50 a.m. EST Jan. 23: Chinese officials have locked down three cities as they attempt to control the spread of a deadly virus that’s sickened hundreds of people, according to multiple reports.

Authorities, including SWAT teams and paramilitary troops, were guarding the train station in Wuhan on Thursday, allowing only passengers who held tickets for the last trains of the day to enter, according to The Associated Press. Officials were also taking similar measures in the cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, the AP reported. The cities have a collective population topping 18 million.

Update 3:08 p.m. EST Jan. 22: The death toll has risen to 17 and the number of confirmed cases on mainland China has jumped to 546 people infected, The Wall Street Journal reported.

To stem the outbreak, officials in Wuhan, the area that the virus is suspected of originating, has shut down the public transportation system starting Thursday at 10 a.m. local time. Outbound flights from the area will also be temporarily stopped, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Passengers from the area to the United States will only be allowed to enter the country in one of five airports in the U.S. -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, CNN reported.

Original report: The death toll has risen to nine, CNN reported and the number of cases has jumped to at least 453 cases on the China mainland alone.

Now the virus has been confirmed to be in the United States, CNN and The New York Times have reported.

A person in Washington state has been confirmed to be carrying coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will announce Tuesday afternoon, CNN reported.

The person was hospitalized with pneumonia last week and was recently in Wuhan, China, federal officials told The New York Times. Wuhan is believed to be ground zero for the outbreak.

The person has not been identified by name and it is the first case of coronavirus being found in the U.S., according to the Times.

Officials said the Brisbane, Australia, man is in his 30s, according to reporters with 9 News Australia. He is being treated at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington and is listed in good condition, USA Today reported.

The CDC is helping hospital officials with the case.

But what is coronavirus and what do you need to know about the illness?

Here are six things you should be aware of:

1. Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that can cause a cold or something severe like Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS. The World Health Organization says symptoms are similar to pneumonia symptoms, CBS News reported.

The initial symptoms include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath, The Associated Press reported.

2. Normally they’re transmitted from animal to humans, but 2019-nCoV is apparently able to be transmitted between humans. At least two people were infected that way, the BBC reported. But there are other coronaviruses in animal populations but have not been transmitted to humans, according to CBS News.

3. The World Health Organization is considering declaring a public health emergency, similar to what it did with Ebola and swine flu, the BBC reported. If the declaration happens, a coordinated international response will follow.

4. At least 15 medical workers are infected with 2019-nCoV and one is in critical condition. They are believed to have contracted the illness from treating patients who were kept in isolation, but that has not been confirmed, the BBC reported.

5. While the 2019-nCoV was traced back to a seafood market that also sells live animals in Wuhan, China last year, there are a few cases outside of China including Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Those cases are linked to the same area in China, the BBC reported. To make sure the illness doesn’t spread further, travelers from Wuhan are being screened worldwide including at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, according to the BBC.

Testing will be expanded to Atlanta and Chicago, USA Today reported.

6. People are taking measures to protect themselves from exposure to the virus. Medical-style face masks are sold out in China, the AP reported. Many people in Wuhan are wearing face coverings as they go about their day. The company that makes the anti-pollution masks, 3M was sold out of the mask online, the AP reported.