With five cases of the illness reported in Hong Kong, a marathon that was expected to draw 70,000 participants February 9 was canceled, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
He also said that he has been paying very close attention to the virus outbreak and demanded that the government at all levels to put people's life and health as the top priority.
Containment efforts, which have thus far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, Mr Ma told a crowded news briefing on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The virus, believed to have originated late previous year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the US, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada. The city has said the first is expected to be completed February 3.
Infections from the virus have now been found on four continents, including a few cases in Australia, France and the USA, among travelers who had recently been in China. All cases involve persons who have traveled from Wuhan, either as returning residents or as tourists. "It is expected that more cases will be exported to other countries, and that further transmission may occur", the World Health Organization said Thursday. The 62-year-old physician was hospitalized on January 18 and died a week later.
Xinhua also said medical supplies are being rushed to the city, including 14,000 protective suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves and masks and goggles.
Amid reports that patients with flu-like symptoms were being turned away from hospitals, about 450 military medical workers, as well as healthcare workers from other parts of the country who have volunteered to help, were arriving in Wuhan.
There is no known vaccine for 2019-nCov, whose symptoms include fever, fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath, respiratory distress, pneumonia, kidney failure and, in severe cases, death. Wild and often poached animals packed together in Chinese markets are blamed as incubators for viruses to evolve and jump the species barrier to humans.
Investigators are closely observing whether the virus was mutating, but thus far found "no obvious signs", that it is doing so, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, Gao Fu, told reporters. "It's unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people", the CDC said.
The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus. Those killed by the virus have mostly been middle-aged or elderly people, sometimes suffering from other conditions that weaken their ability to fight back. It is not clear how lethal the virus is or even whether it is as unsafe as the ordinary flu, which kills thousands of people every year in the U.S. The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the situation is getting worse, experts cautioned, but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus.