A woman from Wuhan, China has been quarantined in a hospital in Thailand last Wednesday, 8 January, after it was revealed that she was infected with the mysterious Wuhan virus
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement that said laboratory testing confirmed she had the new coronavirus infection that recently broke out in her hometown.
They said the 61-year-old patient is recovering from the illness, adding that they are working with officials from both Thailand and China to determine the source of infection.
This is the first time the virus has been detected outside China
According to The Star, since the outbreak of the new virus in Wuhan began on 31 December 2019, 41 people were confirmed with the illness while one person has died from severe infection.
Health officials have noted that many who contracted the virus are workers or visitors of Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which sells fish and a variety of wild animals.
According to WHO, coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people. Within the same family as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses, this specific strain has never been identified in humans until this year.
Investigations have since revealed that she had not visited the now-closed market associated with the outbreak
The discovery raised fears that the woman could have caught the virus at other markets, which she was understood to have visited, reported South China Morning Post.
According to The Straits Times, this also raises concerns as hundreds of millions of people prepare to travel during the Chinese New Year holiday later this month.
The source of the virus remains unknown but fortunately, doctors are now able to rapidly diagnose the virus with genetic sequencing technology shared by China
"It is essential that investigations continue in China to identify the source of this outbreak and any animal reservoirs or intermediate hosts," said WHO regarding response measures.
"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."
In response to the expected crowds for the Chinese New Year holidays, Thailand authorities have reported to be stepping up monitoring at airports.
In the meantime, WHO has recommended standard precautions to prevent the spread of infection
The standard recommendations that everyone should follow include:
- Regular hand washing, especially after direct contact with ill people and their environment,
- Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
- Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
The outbreak began in Wuhan, China with patients presenting symptoms of severe respiratory tract infection: