China’s viral pneumonia spreads to Japan
A recent strain of viral pneumonia has spread from China to Japan, prompting fears of a global pandemic.
A man in his 30’s, from Kanagawa Prefecture, developed a fever on 3 January while visiting Wuhan and tested positive for the virus when he returned to Japan. He has since recovered and was discharged from hospital.
This comes days after the disease had spread to Thailand, where one man was diagnosed and 12 patients where quarantined. So far two people have died, although one of these had serious pre-existing conditions.
The new virus has been identified as a coronavirus, which can cause illnesses that range from colds to deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Many fear the outbreak could be similar to the SARS epidemic of 2003 that spread to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada; it killed 8,098 people. The most recent outbreak began on 12 December, and has been traced to a Wuhan market that sold meat and animals.
So far there has been no proof it can be transmitted from person to person, but outside experts have noted that it can be difficult to be certain at this early stage. The Chinese authorities have disinfected major transportation hubs while surrounding nations have set up checks for all travellers arriving from Wuhan as a precaution.
Foreign agencies are also monitoring the situation, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating the risk to America. They have established an incident management structure to optimize domestic and international coordination to the emerging public health threat. It has also updated its travel watch.
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