A Chinese woman traveling to Thailand from Wuhan City was confirmed to be infected with a new strain of coronavirus and treated near Bangkok in the first reported case outside China, the Thai public health minister said Monday.
From Jan. 3 to 12, Thai authorities screened more than 9,000 passengers from Wuhan, the center of the mystery outbreak, Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters in Bangkok. Authorities found that a dozen of the travelers had developed flu-like symptoms while the woman was the only one diagnosed with coronavirus, he said.
“One of them had a high temperature, according to a scanner at Suvarnabhumi Airport, and was quarantined at the Bamrasnaradura Institute on Jan. 8,” Anutin said. “The lab results showed it is the first case of the new strain of coronavirus found in Thailand and the first found outside of China.”
“She was treated and is ready to travel back to her country. We found no more patients suffering from coronavirus,” Anutin said, adding the others suffered from seasonal flu and eight had been treated and released.
Anutin urged the public to not panic because the patient, identified as a 61-year-old woman, was being quarantined until she returned to China.
Several dozen people in China’s Wuhan City have suffered from coronavirus and one man has died, according to news reports. A meat and seafood market in the city has been closed after it was linked to the outbreak.
Chinese officials said they had not identified the cause of the outbreak and played down speculation that it could be a repeat of the coronavirus blamed for the SARS epidemic, which killed hundreds of people in 2003.
After Thailand reported its first case of a person being diagnosed with the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday it was working with Thai and Chinese officials.
“The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected and reinforces why WHO calls for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries,” the U.N. agency said in a statement. “WHO has issued guidance on how to detect and treat persons who are ill with the new virus. The genetic sequencing shared by China enables more countries to rapidly diagnose patients.”
Earlier this month, WHO reported that patients who have been infected suffer from fever, shortness of breath and have an accumulation of fluid in their lungs as detected by x-rays.
Accordign to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronaviruses are common in different species of animals, including camels and bats. In rare cases, the viruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans, the agency said.