DETROIT (WXYZ) — When Birmingham native Courtney Muir took a job teaching English in Xiamen, China, she never imagined she'd find herself near the center of a world health crisis.
Xiamen is in the Fujian province of China, a couple provinces away from where the Coronavirus was first detected last month in the City of Wuhan, where 9 million people are now on lockdown as a precaution.
"So it’s neighboring, but definitely close enough that cases are slowly being confirmed in my province as well," she told 7 Action News Reporter Jenn Schanz.
Since the illness was discovered, 80 people have died in China and thousands more have become sick.
"You have to have a mask when you’re on public transit and they are starting to take temperatures outside of bars and restaurants and anywhere where a large group might gather," say Muir or new health precautions in China @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/XQghmTTg24— Jenn Schanz (@JennSchanzWXYZ) January 27, 2020
There are now five confirmed cases in the United States; two cases in California, one in Arizona, one in Illinois, and one in Washington State.
There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Michigan, although the CDC is testing samples for three possible cases; two in Washtenaw County and one in Macomb County.
"As we learn more about the epidemic it’s also possible that things change. We have new tests becoming available now to test people for this virus," said Associate Professor Emily Martin with U of M's School of Public Health.
This new virus, believed to have started in a seafood market in Wuhan, can also spread person-to-person, which is why major cities across China are putting extra safety measures in place.
“Currently in the city I live in, you have to have a mask when you’re on public transit and they are starting to take temperatures outside of bars and restaurants and anywhere where a large group might gather," Muir said.
She said surgical masks are even selling out in some places, as more and more people rush to buy them.
“People are really helping each other to try and minimize the fear. But I think as time goes on it is becoming a little more worrisome," Muir told Action News.
Surveillance for the Coronavirus at international airports in the U.S. has also ramped up in the wake of the epidemic, with airports in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago screening travelers from Wuhan.