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Coronavirus updates: The latest news on the outbreak and the global response

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By Yuliya Talmazan and Patrick Smith and Jason Abbruzzese  with NBC News World News
iMAGE: A security official stands guard as an ambulance arrives with a coro
A security official stands guard as an ambulance arrives with a coronavirus patient at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on Jan. 22, 2020.   -   Copyright  Justin Chin
  • Americans evacuated from area near Wuhan
  • Finland confirms first case
  • British Airways halts flights to and from China
  • WHO to reconvene to discuss risk of global outbreak
  • Companies restrict employee travel

Scientists work toward a vaccine

Scientists around the world are mobilizing to produce a vaccine that can help stop the new coronavirus.

While a vaccine is probably still at least a few months away, efforts to develop vaccines for previous coronavirus outbreaks combined with new technologies are shortening what remains a lengthy and arduous process.

Chinese scientists have already sequenced the genome of the virus — a string of more than 34,000 letters. Scientists in Australia were the first to grow the virus in a lab.

American evacuees land in California

Finland confirms first case

Finland has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, according to Finnish news service Yle.

A hospital in Lapland found that a Chinese tourist visiting the country had contracted the virus.

WHO to reconvene to assess threat

The head of the World Health Organization tweeted on Wednesday that the group will reconvene to decide "whether the current outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, wrote that person-to-person transmission in three countries outside of China created the potential for global spread of the coronavirus.

He also wrote that the WHO "deeply regrets" labeling the current risk as "moderate."

"This was a human error in preparing the report," he worte. "I have repeatedly stated the high risk of the outbreak."

Governor of China's Hubei province: 'We will certainly win this hard battle.'

Xinhua News Agency, China's state-run news operation, tweeted out video of a press conference in which the governor of China's Hubei provience, which includes the city of Wuhan, expressed confidence that the country will be able to stop the coronavirus — while wearing a facial mask.

Americans evacuated

American consulate personnel and citizens have been evacuated from an area of China close to the outbreak.

Their chartered flight made a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska on Tuesday night, where state health officials screened all 201 passengers. They were also monitored on the flight.

"All passengers had already been through two screenings in China and were monitored during the flight," the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said in a statement. "In Anchorage, all passengers were screened twice more and approved to continue on to California by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

The flight was cleared to proceed to California.

Live map

There are now 17 countries that have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

More than 6,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus and 132 have died.

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Airlines on alert

British Airways said on Wednesday that it has stopped flights to and from China, adding to a growing list of airlines that are reducing or entirely halting travel to the country.

Indonesia's Lion Air, South Korea's Air Seoul, Finland's Finnair, Air Canada and Singapore-based Jetstar Air have also reduced flights to China, NBC News' Patrick Smith reported.

Facebook restricts China travel

Social media giant Facebook and other U.S. companies are restricting travel to China in an effort to keep employees safe, CNBC's Annie Palmer reported.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees," Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said.

Companies have also been warning about broader disruptions to global business. Automakers have withdrawn employees from China, and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told CNBC that the company had closed more than half of its stores in China and would not hesitate to close more.

Denise Chow and Jason Abbruzzese reported from New York, Yuliya Talmazan and Patrick Smith reported from London, and Phil Helsel reported from Los Angeles.