Thai public health officials insisted Friday morning presser that the number of confirmed coronavirus infections has not risen in three days as its march across Asia continues to pick up steam, with Japan reporting a surge, mostly in passengers aboard a quarantined cruise ship.
Thailand’s 25 confirmed cases since the outbreak began have been overshadowed by the virus’ spread in Japan and Singapore, with Hong Kong and Malaysia also announcing new cases yesterday. Known infections have crested 30,000 in China, and at least 637 people have died there, according to that nation’s health agencies.
One of the new Malaysian cases involves the sister of a Malaysian man who became infected after visiting Singapore on a business trip. The man was among more than 100 international employees who attended a business conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where two South Korean men were also believed to have contracted the disease.
The event, which also saw attendees from China’s Hubei province, is being probed by the World Health Organization, according to Reuters, as the cases “provide more evidence that the coronavirus is spreading through human-to-human contact outside China,” which the WHO worries “could signal a much larger outbreak.”
Dozens of Chinese cities, including the outbreak epicenter of Wuhan, are currently under de facto quarantine. Another person infected with the virus following recent travel to Singapore was a British man now confirmed to be the United Kingdom’s third case, the BBC reported.
Japan saw a spike in infected patients this morning after announcing 41 more cruise ship passengers tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 61 infections aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama. The latest patients included people from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Japan now has the most number of cases outside of China, with Singapore behind with 30 reported infections as of Friday morning.
Following the first fatality in the Philippines and a Wuhan man who died in Hong Kong, there have been no additional fatalities outside of China as of Friday morning.
The virus has spread to nearly 30 other countries including Thailand and Hong Kong. Indonesia has yet to confirm a case; Myanmar lacks the capacity to test for the virus.
Two more Singaporeans have been infected by the virus, the Health Ministry announced last night. One of them, a 27-year-old man, was one of four Singapore residents at the Grand Hyatt Hotel for a private business meeting held Jan. 20 to 22. The meeting was attended by individuals from China, including Hubei province, as well as the Malaysian and two South Korean men who tested positive for the virus after returning home. All were from the same, unidentified company.
The other infected Singaporean has neither links to previous cases nor recent travel history to China. However, the authorities are still investigating his case to establish any links to other infected patients.
The 41-year-old man went to Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Monday and tested positive two days later. He went to two other clinics prior to visiting the hospital.
The condition of two previously confirmed patients has also worsened, the ministry said. One is now in critical condition in the ICU, and the other requires additional oxygen support.
The third case of the coronavirus to reach the United Kingdom, who visited Singapore before testing positive for the virus in Brighton, is being treated at a London hospital, BBC reports.
Another Hong Kong resident has tested positive for the virus, city authorities announced yesterday. The 55-year-old woman is the wife of the city’s 21st case, a 56-year-old man. The couple traveled to Tokyo from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1. Before that, the woman visited Dongguan in mainland China for work and returned Jan. 17.
The authorities were in the process of contacting family members the couple recently celebrated Chinese New Year with.
Malaysia announced two more cases yesterday. One was the 40-year-old sister of the Malaysian who contracted the virus at the same Singapore business meeting, while the other is a woman traveler from Wuhan who arrived Jan. 25 with her mother and friends.
Following Bali’s refusal to take in Timor Leste’s yet to be repatriated citizens out of Wuhan, it appears that East Nusa Tenggara is ready to step in to help.
The final decision, however, still lies with the central government.
“This is purely for humanitarian reasons. A person’s dignity is much higher than everything else. We read reports from a number of outlets that Bali Governor rejected [to host] 17 of Timor Leste’s citizens, and that is why our governor says NTT is ready to accept [them],” East Nusa Tenggara’s government spokesperson Marius Ardu Jelamu told reporters.
The Philippines has relocated its quarantine zone from a military drug rehab facility in Nueva Ecija to the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City recently used for the 2019 SEA Games. The first batch of Filipino evacuees from Wuhan is expected to arrive Sunday.
The first person to die of the disease outside of China has yet to be cremated in the Philippines after two funeral parlors backed out and refused to do it.
There have been no additional confirmed cases in the Philippines as of Friday morning, but the country continues to investigate more than 100 suspected infections, including at least six passengers who traveled on the same flight with an infected Chinese couple.
Additional reporting Chayanit Itthiponmaetee
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Following Bali’s refusal, East Nusa Tenggara willing to help Timor Leste quarantine citizens repatriated from China
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