Wuhan Virus: Death Toll Rises to Nine, Cases Confirmed in US, Thailand, Korea & Japan

Wuhan Virus: Death Toll Rises to Nine, Cases Confirmed in US, Thailand, Korea & Japan

Ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations in China, an outbreak of pneumonia is raising alarm, with 9 confirmed dead and cases confirmed in the US, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.

Image credit: MFish _

An alarming outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, China has erupted just ahead of the country’s biggest holiday, Chinese New Year. Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said that a new strain of coronavirus is the cause. There are 440 confirmed cases across 13 provinces in China and more than 2,000 cases of close contact have also been detected. As of 22 January 2020, the death toll has risen to nine. 

Most of the cases have been in Wuhan and the disease has also spread out to other Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. As a major transport hub and home to over 11 million people, Wuhan sees hundreds of millions of people travelling across the country to celebrate the holiday season with family.

Animal source likely cause of outbreak

The new coronavirus strain has caused heightened fear as it is connected to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The WHO has revealed that an animal source is the most likely primary cause of the outbreak. 

Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at the National Health Commission who helped in exposing the scale of the previous SARS outbreak, warned that the virus can be transmitted from human to human. So far, 15 medical workers who were responsible for pneumonia patients in Wuhan have been affected. As of now, there is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing, coughing and pneumonic infiltrates in the lungs. 

Image credit: Jason Scragz

Airport authorities in many countries have now stepped up screening of passengers in Wuhan after South Korea reported its first case on Monday after Thailand and Japan previously confirmed a total of three cases. Taiwan and the U.S. have also confirmed the first case of Wuhan virus as of yet.

Mandatory temperature screenings at Singapore’s Changi Airport 

In Singapore’s Changi Airport, temperature screening will be extended to all travelers arriving from China. Individuals with pneumonia who had been travelling in Wuhan within the last 14 days before the onset of symptoms will also be isolated in hospital. This increased precautionary measures are in response to an increase in the number of cases as of recent and anticipated increment in travel volume as Chinese New Year holiday approaches. 

The WHO has sent directives to hospitals around the world on infection prevention and control. The WHO panel will also be meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to decide if there is a need to declare the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” – a rare classification used for the gravest epidemics.

Precautions to take

Travellers and members of the public are advised to take the following precautions at all times:

  • Avoid contact with live animals such as poultry and birds
  • Avoid consumption of raw and uncooked meats
  • Practice good personal hygiene and frequent hand washing with soap
  • Wear a mask if you are facing any respiratory symptoms
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you are feeling under the weather

Senior Minister of State for Health, Lam Pin Min shared in a Facebook post urging travelers to Wuhan to take similar precautions. He also added that the Ministry of Health Singapore is highly concerned about the increase in the number of confirmed cases and are closely monitoring the current situation.

About Author

Natasha Shadeanna
Natasha Shadeanna

Natasha is always on a quest to find a place where it is always spring. Until then, she spends her days reading travel journals, watching travelogues and searching for cheap flights to anywhere around the world. If a bar is playing good music, she’s probably there with a drink in hand.


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