Asia Minute: New Mystery Virus Reported Outside China

Jan 15, 2020

There are further developments today on a mysterious virus that has hit a major city in China.

The virus that has sickened dozens of people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has now been reported outside the country. A tourist traveling from Wuhan was quarantined last week after landing in Bangkok.

According to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, no one else on the airplane was infected.

Authorities are still tracking the origins of what has been identified as a “coronavirus” – a biological family that ranges from the common cold to the deadly SARS virus. The World Health Organization said Tuesday there have been limited cases of human-to-human transmission of this new virus, but added there may be a potential for a wider spread.

Questions still surround the pneumonia-like illness and how infection is being spread. Chinese media report the woman in Thailand had not visited the seafood market in Wuhan that’s believed to be the center of the outbreak.

Concerns elsewhere in Asia have led to airport screenings in many cities, with memories of the SARS virus that killed more than 700 people in the early 2000’s.

So far, the new virus has killed at least one person.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam says a meeting of public health officials will be held today to discuss the latest developments. Doctors and communicable disease experts from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have spent the last two days in Wuhan to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation there.