Asia Minute: Widening Concerns About Virus in Asia Pacific

Jan 22, 2020

A new virus that started in China has now reached the United States. The Hawaii Department of Health is advising doctors across the state to be alert for patients who may have traveled from the city of Wuhan. While it’s not yet understood exactly how the virus is spread, it’s raising concerns – especially within the Asia Pacific.

Authorities in Singapore are stepping up health screening procedures at the airport checking all passengers arriving from China for fever.

Up to now, that screening had only been for passengers arriving from Wuhan — the city at the center of the outbreak. But Chinese health officials have now reported cases in Beijing as well as the southern province of Guangdong.

Anyone who shows symptoms of fever and pneumonia and has been anywhere in China within the past two weeks will be subject to isolation in Singapore.

In recent days, cases of the virus have been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan — as well as in Washington State.

Thermal scanners have been set up in India, Australia and Indonesia – checking passengers arriving from China for fever.

The Lunar New Year is coming at the end of the week, and millions of Chinese will be traveling — mostly domestically, but many will go overseas.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told cabinet ministers Tuesday to strengthen quarantine measures and monitor patients suspected of having the virus — including tourists arriving from China.

Japanese companies are also taking action. Kyodo News reports that Softbank has told its workers in China to work from home, while Nippon Steel and Sony have told their Japanese employees to avoid business trips to China that are not urgent.