Wuhan pneumonia outbreak spurs fever checks in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Wuhan pneumonia outbreak spurs fever checks in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Wuhan pneumonia outbreak spurs fever checks in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan

With some netizens likening the epidemic to the deadly outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus that killed nearly 800 people in 2002-2003 after being covered up by Chinese authorities, the Hong Kong and Taiwan government have called for faster genetic testing after Chinese authorities said they were yet to confirm the cause of the outbreak.

"As of 3 January, a total of 44 pneumonia cases have been detected, with 11 people now in severe condition, while the vital signs of the rest are considered generally stable", the Wuhan health authorities said.

All patients in the Wuhan outbreak have been held in isolation and their close contacts are under medical observation.

The outbreak has prompted Singapore and Hong Kong to bring in screening processes for travellers from the city. Paige Snider, senior advisor to the WHO's China office, told the paper that investigations are still underway and authorities haven't yet confirmed the pathogen that's causing the illness. Ko said the patient in Princess Margaret Hospital was in a stable condition.

Health authorities in Hong Kong were on high alert following five cases of patients developing symptoms of respiratory infections and fever after visiting Wuhan, about four hours by train from Hong Kong. Initial lab tests that showed "no apparent human-to-human transmission" and no medical staff were infected, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

After an inter-departmental meeting on the Wuhan pneumonia cases, Hong Kong officials briefed reporters on the developments. An investigation and cleanup were under way at a seafood market in the city, which is suspected to be connected with the cases, it said.

On Friday, Singapore's health ministry said it would begin temperature screening on passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan. "We can not confirm it is what's being spread online, that it is SARS virus". Other severe pneumonia is more likely'.

News of the mystery pneumonia outbreak earlier this week led to speculation online that it might be linked to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a highly contagious respiratory disease.

In Hong Kong, thermal imaging systems will be deployed as part of increased fever surveillance at boundary checkpoints, authorities said.

Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) organized a press conference on the afternoon of December 31.

The World Health Organization said it was aware of the reports, is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the Chinese government about it. The semi-autonomous territory reported 1,755 SARS cases between 2002 and 2003, among which 299 died, and the region's tourism and services industries suffered a heavy blow as a result of the epidemic.

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