Chinese authorities have closed off nearly 20 cities amid efforts to contain a new coronavirus that has killed more than 50 people in recent weeks, with cases confirmed in several countries in Asia and beyond. Large public gatherings have been banned, and major tourist attractions including Beijing's Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland, are closed. Ice skating rinks popular with locals were also shut down.
But a growing number of other countries are reporting cases, mainly of people returning from China - especially from Wuhan.
At a media briefing on Friday, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said that, unlike SARS, when China tried to hide the extent of the outbreak, hampering the global response, Canada is prepared in the likely event that the coronavirus comes to this country.
Health officials have confirmed a 50-year-old man in Victoria is the first case of coronavirus in Australia.
In total, the National Health Committee reported 1,975 confirmed cases in China, including 324 severe cases. Schools in Hong Kong that are now on Lunar New Year holidays will remain closed until February 17. Earlier in the week, many Chinese had already gone to their hometowns to be with family or boarded planes for vacations overseas.
France's government and the French carmaker PSA - which has a sizable presence in Wuhan - also said they were formulating plans to evacuate staff and relatives, who would be taken to a city in a neighbouring province to face a quarantine period.
Passengers arrive in Sydney on a flight from China on Thursday
In Hong Kong, with five confirmed cases, the city's leader Carrie Lam said on Saturday that flights and high speed rail trips between the city and Wuhan will be halted. A fourth "probable" Australian case of coronavirus was announced late Sunday.
Cruise operators including Royal Caribbean Cruises, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and Astro Ocean Cruises said that they canceled a combined 12 cruises that had been scheduled to embark from Chinese ports before February 2.
A leading infectious disease specialist treating two of the patients said the illness appears less serious than comparable previous outbreaks, such as the SARS epidemic that resulted in more than 800 deaths in 2003. "And that's just erring on the side of caution", she said. Officials added that the current risk of local transmission remains low.
Those infected with coronavirus display respiratory symptoms including fever, a cough, and shortness of breath.
On Saturday at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting to address the outbreak, Xi ordered officials at all levels of government to make it their top priority.
The central government allocated 1 billion yuan (143 million USA dollars) to fight the outbreak, sent its reserves of medical supplies and coordinated the transfer of protective clothing, face masks, gloves, and protective goggles to the hard-hit areas, Ma added. According to state media, hundreds of military medics, some with experience responding to SARS and Ebola, have been deployed to Wuhan to help shore up staffing at hospitals. The Chicago-area patient, a woman in her 60s, had recently returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease in China, and is doing well in a hospital isolation room. Vehicles with number plates from other provinces are monitored more strictly.