As Singapore expands airport screenings for passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, to include all of the mainland, health monitoring is being ramped up at airports throughout the region as the new strain of coronavirus spreads.
More than 400 cases have now been confirmed in China as well as a first in the United States, with health authorities in Thailand saying today they are probing another case involving a Thai man who may be infected with the virus, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Health officials in the Philippines told local reporters yesterday they are awaiting lab test results for a 5-year-old boy who recently arrived in Cebu City from Wuhan to study English. The boy tested positive for an unidentified strain of coronavirus, and samples have been sent to Australia for further testing.
More Indonesian airports, including Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, have installed temperature scannings for international arrivals, authorities announced yesterday.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as the 2019-nCoV, was first reported on Dec. 31 and has been linked to the Huanan seafood market that has now been closed. Within weeks, the virus has spread to other parts of China, including Beijing and Shanghai.
Nine people have since died in the country’s Hubei province and the number of reported confirmed cases in China has jumped from 291 to 440 today. Experts in Hong Kong have said the number could be much higher, perhaps more than a thousand.
Chinese authorities also announced yesterday that the coronavirus is contagious and can be spread between humans.
The World Health Organization has called for an emergency meeting in Geneva today to discuss whether the new virus constitutes a global health emergency.
Philippines health officials told local reporters yesterday it is investigating a suspected case of the Wuhan pneumonia virus involving a 5-year-old Chinese boy who had arrived in Cebu City from Wuhan on Jan. 12 to study English there.
The boy, who showed symptoms such as fever, throat irritation and cough, was hospitalized on the same day. Test results subsequently showed he tested positive for an unidentified strain of coronavirus.
Test samples have been sent to Australia for further testing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
A Thai man suspected of having infected the novel coronavirus is being investigated by Thai health authorities, the Disease Control Department announced in a statement. He is being isolated at a hospital in west metro Bangkok while authorities wait for lab test results.
Singapore has expanded its health monitoring measures in Changi Airport to include temperature checks for all passengers arriving from any part of China, not just Wuhan. Passengers showing symptoms of pneumonia will also be isolated as a precaution.
The seventh suspected case involving a 44-year-old Singapore woman tested negative of the novel coronavirus.
Authorities of Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport told reporters there yesterday that thermal scanners have been installed at two of the airport’s international arrival gates as part of measures to monitor the spread of the coronavirus into the popular tourist destination.
The domestic Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi is following suit.
“Sultan Thaha Airport is only a domestic airport. However, passengers [from outside the country] can come here after transiting in Cengkareng [Soekarno-Hatta International Airport] or Kuala Namu [in Medan, North Sumatra],” general manager Muhammad Hendra was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying.
The United States confirmed today its first case of the Wuhan pneumonia virus involving a Washington man in his 30s. The unnamed man had visited an area near Wuhan and landed at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 15, two days before health screenings began at U.S. airports. The man sought medical treatment on Jan. 19 after showing symptoms.
His case was referred to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where test results confirmed the virus on Monday.
The man is being isolated at the Providence Regional Medical Center, in Washington state.
Confirmed cases as of 10:45am Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020:
China: 440 (9 deaths)
South Korea: 1
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This article, Singapore vigilant as Wuhan virus infections spread globally, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!