Bangkok greets Chinese New Year amid viral anxiety

Photo: Gov’t Public Relations Dept.
Photo: Gov’t Public Relations Dept.

Officials are safeguarding today’s Chinese New Year celebrations against crime and fire but have offered no public pronouncements on measures to deter spread of a potentially fatal virus from China.

State media organs have promoted fire precautions and extra police to ensure the safety of Chinese travelers without commenting on the Wuhan coronavirus that has killed 25 in China and led to Thai flights to and from the affected area being canceled.

Thailand has registered the most infections outside of China with four confirmed cases as Singapore and Vietnam record their first infections.

China has expanded efforts to seal off the affected area to more cities near Wuhan, including Huanggang and Ezhou, affecting at least 20 million people. Chinese New Year celebrations have been canceled nationwide, including Beijing’s major festivities.

The World Health Organization said yesterday the outbreak does not yet constitute a global health emergency, citing a limited number of cases abroad. 

After several false alarms, the viral Chinese coronavirus has hit Singapore, where the first case was confirmed last night.

The virus was found in a 66-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who tested positive for the virus. Singapore health officials are also looking into a possible infection involving his 37-year-old son. Both arrived in Singapore on Monday with eight other family members who have since returned home. 

The family had checked in at the Shangri La Rasa Sentosa hotel. Two days later, the 66-year-old man developed a fever and went to the Singapore General Hospital where he is now quarantined with his son. 

Hotel vice president for operations Josef Dolp told reporters last night they had stepped up hygiene measures before the guests had checked in. The room they stayed in has been “thoroughly” cleaned, and the cleaners also quarantined. 

Singapore has also further expanded temperature screenings for passengers arriving in the city-state at land and sea checkpoints, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said today. 

Vietnam yesterday confirmed two cases of the virus, also involving a father and son. The son, a Chinese man who had been living in Ho Chi Minh City, was infected by his father who had visited him in Vietnam from Wuhan, Vietnamese health officials announced.  

The father was hospitalized Jan. 17 after developing a fever. Days later, his son showed symptoms.

Indonesia had its first virus scare Thursday afternoon, which led to a lockdown of a building where the office of Chinese tech company Huawei is located in Jakarta.

An employee of Huawei Tech Investment, who had recently returned from a trip to China, was suspected of exhibiting fever symptoms. The office management told Coconuts Jakarta the man was taken to hospital where he was later diagnosed with laryngitis.

Huawei’s headquarters is located in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where several suspected cases of the virus have been reported. 

In Hong Kong, two parks normally used as holiday camps have been converted into quarantine zones

Japan’s health ministry announced today its second confirmed case of the Wuhan virus. A Chinese man in his 40s had developed a fever days before he arrived in Japan from Wuhan on Sunday. He is being quarantined at a hospital in Tokyo.  South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today confirmed a second case of the Wuhan virus. 

Macao has confirmed a second case of the virus. The 66-year-old Chinese male tourist from Wuhan entered Macao on Wednesday with a body temperature of 38.7C. He is now at the Conde S. Januario Hospital, where the woman confirmed as Macao’s first Wuhan virus case is also quarantined. 

Additional reporting Todd Ruiz

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