Health authorities confirmed that a woman traveling from China to Thailand was infected with a new strain of coronavirus related to a worrying outbreak in Wuhan.
The World Health Organization said Monday that it was working with Thai officials after the case was identified and the woman was hospitalized on January 8, marking the first case in which the mysterious disease was detected outside of China.
WHO said in a statement: “The possibility of identifying cases in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for active surveillance and preparation in other countries.”
A total of 41 people have been diagnosed with the pathogen, which seems to come from a new type of coronavirus, the Wuhan municipal health commission said in a statement over the weekend.
On Saturday, one of those cases, a 61-year-old man, died from pneumonia. Seven patients have been discharged and six remain in critical condition, according to the commission.
Residents and observers particularly distrust an outbreak in China after the Sars outbreak in 2002 and 2003, which spread to at least 37 countries and killed more than 800 people. It is believed that the initial efforts of officials to cover up the epidemic have worsened its impact.
The Chinese authorities have said there was no evidence of transmission from person to person. Hundreds of contacts with patients, including health workers, have not contracted the virus.
But before the Chinese spring festival, when China celebrates the lunar new year and millions of people travel across the country to return to their homes, authorities have warned residents to watch for symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or body pain.
Coronaviruses come from the same family of viruses that circulate among animals and have resulted in outbreaks such as Sara and Mers. Authorities believe it is linked to a seafood market in Wuhan that also sells wild animals.
The Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the risk posed by the outbreak depends on “if and how well it spreads among people, the severity of the resulting disease”, and medical and other countermeasures type available to contain the virus.