KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 — Japan reported its first case of infection from the Wuhan pneumonia-like virus that killed one, the second country outside China after Thailand.
Singapore’s The Straits Times today quoted the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare as saying that a man in his 30s in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo, tested positive for the viral strain.
On January 3, the man, who is a Chinese national, developed fever-like symptoms during a visit to Wuhan, a central Chinese city more than 1,000km from Beijing, and was hospitalised on January 10 after returning to Japan.
He was yesterday discharged upon full recovery. However, the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases reportedly confirmed that the man had been infected with the new coronavirus strain, reported The Straits Times.
Wuhan has reported 41 cases of pneumonia, which preliminary lab tests cited by state media showed could be from a new type of coronavirus, although Wuhan health authorities previously said the figure was at 59. One patient has died.
No new cases or deaths have been reported in China, but six are in serious condition, as of January 12.
A Chinese woman has been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain of coronavirus, Thai authorities said on Monday, the first time the virus was detected outside China.
The Wuhan outbreak was linked to a fresh seafood market, which sells exotic meat, and has since been closed since January 1. Coronaviruses, which come from bats but can also infect various animals, can jump from animals to humans.
The Straits Times report said the man who reported the infection in Japan did not visit the seafood market when he was in China, and quoted the Japanese Ministry of Health as concluding that he might have been infected due to close contact with a patient.
The World Health Organization (WHO) previously said that the pneumonia cases in Wuhan could be caused by a newly emerging member of the family viruses that caused the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak — which infected over 8,000 people and killed almost 800 in 2003 worldwide, including a significant number in China.
Meanwhile, AFP reported that the Wuhan coronavirus could have been spread between family members, despite no human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak being confirmed so far.
Quoting Wuhan’s health commission, the AFP report stated that one of the 41 patients reported in the city could have been infected by her husband, who worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The woman had “no history of exposure” to the seafood market, however.
There was also a separate case of a father, son and nephew living together, whom mainland doctors believed were most likely to have been exposed to the same virus in the market, which has since been closed.
The woman diagnosed in Thailand, meanwhile, who is currently in stable condition, did not visit the seafood market, according to the WHO on Tuesday.