WHO gears up amid new coronavirus cases in Japan, Thailand after China

About 41 people in Wuhan were infected with the virus that was traced to a seafood market

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 15 January 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) seemed to be preparing for a big outbreak of a novel coronavirus. It has issued guidelines for hospitals across the world, even as footprint of the virus has expanded to Japan and Thailand from China.

A 30-year-old resident of Kanagawa prefecture was hospitalised on January 10, 2020 after he returned from China's Wuhan on January 6. He was discharged after five days, Japan’s health ministry said on January 16. 

Also, a 61-year-old Chinese woman reportedly had symptoms of the virus at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. She was discharged after being kept in isolation for some time.

WHO, however, hinted that the source of her infection might not be same as the 41-odd people infected with the virus in Wuhan. Its statement on January 14 stressed on finding her infection source as it could throw up more questions. “The traveller did not report having visited the market linked to most of the other cases. It is vital that investigations continue to identify the source of infection,” the statement said. 

Most cases related to the outbreak in China were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are mostly transmitted from animals to humans. 

The the central China city reported 41 cases of pneumonitis due to infection from a novel (new) coronavirus — 2019-nCoV. One person has already succumbed to it, according to the Wuhan Municipal health Commission. Seven patients were treated and discharged while six were in a ‘severe’ condition since January 2. 

Genomic sequencing analysis confirmed the Bangkok patient was infected with 2019-nCoV isolated in Wuhan, the WHO said.

At the moment, there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission, the WHO said. About 763 close contacts of the patients have been screened and none of them have tested positive for the virus.

Common signs of the new coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), kidney failure and even death.

Coronaviruses have been responsible for SARS, which affected 8,000 people and killed 800 in 2002 in China; and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome that killed 850 people in 2013.

SARS, a coronavirus, became a killer virus as it spread from human-to-human and experts fear if the transmission history repeats with this new coronavirus, it may become a difficult situation for the global health fraternity. 

The WHO advised people to regularly wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and thoroughly wash and cook meat and eggs.

“Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing,” it has said. For those travelling to or from Wuhan, it has issued precautionary guidelines.  

The WHO gave detailed information about the virus in a Twitter thread on January 15, 2020:

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