WHO confirms first case of new virus outside China - in Thailand, Latest World News - The New Paper

WHO confirms first case of new virus outside China - in Thailand

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LONDON/BEIJING: The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed yesterday the first case in Thailand of a new virus from the same family as SARS that is behind a Chinese pneumonia outbreak.

The UN health agency said a person travelling from Wuhan, China, was hospitalised in Thailand last Wednesday after being diagnosed with mild pneumonia.

"Laboratory testing subsequently confirmed that the novel coronavirus was the cause," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP, referring to the new virus.

The WHO said it might soon host an emergency meeting on the spread of the new virus.

The case marks the first outside of China, where 41 people with pneumonia-like symptoms have so far been diagnosed with the new virus in the central city of Wuhan, with one of the victims dying last Thursday.

The agency said yesterday it had been informed by Thai health officials that the patient there was recovering from the illness.


It stressed it was not surprising that the virus had spread beyond China.

"The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for ongoing active monitoring and preparedness in other countries," it said in a statement.

Thai authorities are stepping up monitoring at airports ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, when hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists are expected to visit.

The outbreak appears to be linked to a single seafood market in Wuhan.

The cluster of infections had raised fears of a potential epidemic after China said last week that the virus causing it was a previously unknown type but came from the same family of viruses that caused the SARS and MERS epidemics.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday that four patients have been released and that no new cases have been discovered as of Saturday.

Another 717 people deemed to be in close contact with the patients remain under medical observation, the authority said. - REUTERS, AFP