INTERNATIONAL - The World Health Organization will decide on Thursday whether to declare the Wuhan virus a "public health emergency of international concern."

  • WHO to decide “public health emergency” status on new coronavirus
  • Death toll has risen in what the CDC considers right now is an outbreak
  • The virus is spreading by close contact with infected person
  • LINK: CDC lists symptoms, diagnosis for coronavirus

“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

Health officials in China upgraded on Wednesday the death toll in the new coronavirus to 17, with more than 500 infected in six countries including the United States. Authorities in China have narrowed the location of where patient zero might have been infected, in a seafood market in the city of Wuhan.

Transportation there has been suspended.

How is this new virus spreading?

The virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, or simply touching an infected person.

Or by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Scientists also believe the new virus can spread from person to person in close contact through the respiratory tract.

So far, officials from the Centers for Disease Control have classified it as not as severe as its related more recent pandemic, the SARS virus from almost 20 years ago.

That virus, also originating from China and spreading from an animal to humans, caused about 800 deaths.

The CDC is calling it an outbreak.

A recent bulletin from the WHO showed the majority of confirmed cases are in China.

While in the other countries, it's a single digit patient.

Health officials in the U.S. are looking to monitor travelers from incoming flights from China at five airports.

None is in the state of Florida.