The Public Health Ministry confirmed eight cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated from Wuhan (Hubei province) in China as of Sunday, January 26. Of the eight confirmed cases, seven are Chinese nationals and one is a Thai national. This is the highest number of confirmed cases outside of China so far. The total number of cases under investigation stands at 84, including 45 people that have been discharged. A number of suspected cases were also reported in several provinces on Sunday, including in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, and Rayong.
Temperature screenings have been implemented since Sunday, January 5, at Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Don Mueang (DMK), Phuket (HKT), and Chiang Mai (CNX) airports for travelers arriving from Wuhan (Hubei province) to prevent the potential spread of the viral pneumonia.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31. The source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency panel in Geneva (Switzerland) on January 23 to discuss the virus, ultimately deciding that it was too early to classify the outbreak as a "public health emergency of international concern." As of January 26, cases of the virus have been confirmed in France, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Nepal, Macao, and Taiwan and suspected cases have been reported in Mexico and Côte d'Ivoire. Virus screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
• Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease.