Wuhan virus outbreak: Thai man possibly infected, authorities investigating

Wuhan virus outbreak: Thai man possibly infected, authorities investigating

Tourist line-up in a health control at the arrival section at Suvarnabhumi international airport in
Tourist line-up at a health control area at the arrival section of Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan 19, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva)

BANGKOK: A Thai man has been detected with symptoms similar to those of coronavirus infection and is currently being monitored in an isolation room at a hospital in Nakhon Pathom near Bangkok, as health officials work to determine the cause of his conditions.

According to the Department of Disease Control, officials are waiting for lab test results. 

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan city of Hubei province, China. Contagious between humans, it can cause potentially deadly pneumonia and has killed six people in China so far. 

READ: Wuhan pneumonia outbreak: 15 medical workers infected, 1 in critical condition

READ: Wuhan virus: All travellers arriving in Singapore from China to undergo temperature screening

China confirmed as of Tuesday (Jan 21) there were 291 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in China. Nine people were in critical condition and 817 others were being monitored.

Thailand has reported two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. One patient has been released from hospital and returned to China. 

The other - a 74-year-old female tourist from China - is still receiving treatment at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute in Nonthaburi. Currently, the Ministry of Public Health maintains there is no outbreak of 2019-nCoV in Thailand.

"Her clinical signs are in recovery phase. However, the case is currently waiting for laboratory confirmation to determine if she is no longer infectious, upon which the doctor will then allow the case to return home," the ministry reported on Jan 17.

There are 36 close contacts of the two confirmed cases in Thailand but none of them have been infected by the new coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

“There is no need for the public to panic since there is no outbreak of 2019-nCoV in Thailand,” it added.

READ: Wuhan pneumonia outbreak: A timeline of how the new coronavirus spread

READ: China confirms human-to-human transmission of Wuhan virus as WHO announces emergency meet

As a preventive measure, Thailand has been running thermal scans on passengers arriving from Wuhan at five international airports. They include Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport in the capital Bangkok, and three others in popular tourist destinations of Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi.

On Monday, the Department of Disease Control reported 18,383 passengers and cabin crew from 116 flights have been screened between Jan 3 and Jan 20. At least 19 travellers with symptoms potentially related to novel coronavirus have been detected at the airports.

Thai authorities have raised the alert level to two out of three. Hospitals have also been asked to screen patients with symptoms of coughing, sore throat, runny nose and wheezing as well as people with recent travel history to Wuhan. 

Outside China, confirmed cases of novel coronavirus have also been reported in Japan and South Korea. 

coronavirus
Factfile on the coronavirus family, which circulate in animals and can be transmitted to humans. A new strain of this virus has been identified in Wuhan, China. (AFP) 

Regarding the viral infection, the Department of Disease Control has identified two major risks for Thailand.

READ: Philippines probes possible case of virus from China

Every day, the country welcomes about 1,200 passengers aboard direct flights from Wuhan City to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Also, some 700,000 Thai nationals travel to China every year while about 10 million Chinese travel to Thailand in the same period.

Given the Chinese New Year holidays later this month, there are concerns the deadly virus could spread further in different parts of the world.

Source: CNA/zl(hm)

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