Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

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A health officer screens arriving passengers from China at Changi International airport in Singapore on Jan. 22 as authorities increased measure against coronavirus. — AFP
A health officer screens arriving passengers from China at Changi International airport in Singapore on Jan. 22 as authorities increased measure against coronavirus. — AFP

SINGAPORE — Singapore Thursday confirmed its first case the new SARS-like virus which has killed 17 people in China and spread to multiple countries including the United States.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patient was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.

He was immediately isolated after arriving at a hospital with a fever and cough, and test results later confirmed he was infected with the coronavirus.

One of his traveling companions, a 37-year-old man from Wuhan, has also been admitted to hospital as a suspect case.

Prior to admission, they had stayed at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, the ministry said.

It added that Singapore was expecting more cases and alarms "given the high volume of international travel".

Singapore's Changi Airport started screening flights from Wuhan at the beginning of the month, and on Wednesday extended the checks to all flights from China.

The travel hub receives over 430 flights from China every week.

The virus has caused alarm in China and abroad because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Singapore was among the hardest hit by SARS with 33 deaths.

Also two Chinese nationals have tested positive for the SARS-like coronavirus and are being treated in a Vietnam hospital, officials said Thursday.

A Chinese man living in Ho Chi Minh City was infected by his father who traveled to Vietnam on Jan. 13 from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus.

The father was hospitalized on Jan. 17 with a high fever, days before his son showed symptoms, health officials said.

Both were quarantined and tested positive for coronavirus, a new infection that has already killed 17 people in China and infected more than 570.

"The patients have shown signs of good recovery, (their) fever has reduced and they can eat now," Doctor Nguyen Ngoc Sang said Thursday at a meeting at Ho Chi Minh City's Cho Ray hospital.

Vietnam's deputy health minister urged all precautions to avoid any further spread.

"We should immediately test any suspected cases so that we can detect (the disease) quicker. We don't want it to spread to the public," Nguyen Truong Son said at the meeting attended by reporters.

Vietnam shares a long porous border with China and welcomes millions of visitors a year from its northern neighbor.

Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the United States have all reported confirmed cases of the new virus after it first emerged in China on Dec. 31. — AFP


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