All passengers arriving from China will be subject to heightened screening as the Wuhan virus continues to spread on the eve of a busy travel holiday and a Singapore woman was placed in quarantine yesterday.
Expanded screenings come after the 44-year-old Singapore woman, the seventh suspected case in recent weeks, was quarantined after traveling to Wuhan. She is undergoing medical evaluation, Singapore’s Health Ministry said in one of two statements issued last night.
“Her condition is stable. The suspect case did not visit the Huanan seafood wholesale market associated with the cluster of pneumonia in Wuhan,” the statement read, referring to the outbreak’s known point of origin.
On Monday, a woman infected with the SARS-like coronavirus arriving from Wuhan was intercepted at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport. That followed infections appearing in Bangkok, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
Chinese health officials on Monday confirmed the virus is spreading human to human.
Temperature screenings at Changi Airport, which previously targeted passengers from Wuhan, will be expanded to all passengers inbound from China starting Wednesday, the ministry said in a separate statement.
Chinese New Year celebrations begin this weekend and health officials worldwide have raised the alarm that the busy travel season could speed the spread of the virus.
The ministry said as much, acknowledging its expanded screening is coming in “response to the increase in cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and exported cases to other cities and countries, as well as the anticipated increase in travel volume in the lead up to the Chinese New Year holidays.”
Here’s a timeline of suspected cases in Singapore so far:
- Jan. 4: Female Chinese national, 3 – negative
- Jan. 10: Male Chinese national, 26 – negative
- Jan. 16: Singaporean man, 69 – negative
- Jan. 17: Male Chinese national, 64, and female Singapore resident, 61 – both negative
- Jan. 18: Male Singapore resident, 52 – negative
- Jan. 20: Female Singapore resident, 44 – pending
Four people in Wuhan have died from the virus, according to reports. There are nearly 200 confirmed cases in that city, as well as one in Tokyo, one in Incheon, two in Beijing, one in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, and two in Bangkok. Dozens have been infected in Hong Kong.
The outbreak began in December and has been traced to a Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan.
Epidemiologists say the virus closely resembles SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a disease which killed nearly 800 people throughout Asia 16 years ago.
The World Health Organization notes the virus strain is new and has designated it the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus.
An animal source seems the most likely primary source of this novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, with some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts. pic.twitter.com/L57VUr5d3z
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 19, 2020