Health officials have announced that there are 19 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated from Wuhan (Hubei province) in China as of Friday, January 31. Five new cases of the total 19 were reported on Friday, including the first human-to-human transmission case in the country. It involves a taxi driver who was reportedly infected by a tourist, raising concerns of spread through tourist areas and prior passengers. This remains the highest number of confirmed cases outside of China so far. On Wednesday, January 29, officials implemented surveillance measures for staff in the tourism sector and in shopping malls.
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 to prevent the potential spread of the viral pneumonia.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and 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.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
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.