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22 Jan 2020 | 01:10 AM UTC

China: First case of unidentified virus confirmed in Macao January 22 /update 12

Health officials confirm the first case of unidentified coronavirus in Macao on January 22; further spread of the virus is possible

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Event

On Wednesday, January 22, officials confirmed that a woman in is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. This is the first confirmed case of the unidentified respiratory infection in Macao. The woman is originally from Wuhan (Hubei province) and traveled to Macao on Sunday, January 19, before being hospitalized on Tuesday, January 21. Authorities are expected to implement health screening measures at all casinos and entry points across the territory as of Wednesday.

The Deputy Director of the National Health Commission, Li Bin, announced during a press conference on Wednesday that the total number of nationwide cases of the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan has increased to 440 as of 23:59 (local time) on Tuesday. Bin also confirmed at least nine associated fatalities from pneumonia due to the outbreak; however, all deaths have been reported in Hubei province. Cases have been reported in 14 provinces, including the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus has also been confirmed. Stricter measures will be implemented in hospitals to protect staff from the outbreak.

Officials in Wuhan announced on Tuesday that all celebrations and public gatherings related to the Lunar New Year would be canceled due to the ongoing outbreak. Lunar New Year events in Wuhan were set to begin on Saturday, January 25, and continue through Saturday, February 8.

Fever screenings were implemented at Wuhan International Airport (WHU) to prevent the potential spread of the viral pneumonia on Wednesday, January 15. Individuals will be subject to temperature tests before boarding their flights and those displaying fever symptoms will be quarantined as a precaution. As of January 21, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the US, and suspected cases have been reported in Singapore and Australia. Similar screening measures are being implemented at airports throughout Asia, Australia, and the US.

Further spread of the illness is possible over the near term, particularly during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

Context

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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.

Advice

Individuals in China and Macao, particularly those in 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