Wuhan virus: Thailand to screen arrivals from China as tally of virus infections hit 14

Tourists wearing masks visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 27, 2020.
Tourists wearing masks visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 27, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand announced plans on Tuesday (Jan 28) to screen all arrivals from China for symptoms of a deadly virus and confirmed six more infections among such visitors, taking the south-east Asian nation’s tally to 14, health officials said.

Thailand's confirmed cases is the highest number of infections outside China.

The new strain of coronavirus claimed its first victim in Beijing, the Chinese capital, taking the death toll to 106 as infections reached 4,515, although there have been no deaths outside China. 

Five of the new cases, aged six to 70 years, came from Hubei province and are part of the same family, the deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr Tanarak Plipat, told reporters.

The other patient came from south-western Chongqing province, Dr Tanarak added.

One passenger from among the family of seven travelling together was taken to hospital after showing symptoms on arrival, added Dr Tanarak, the deputy director-general of the department of disease control.

The other four of the family were quarantined after showing symptoms following monitoring, he added.

“Now we will expand screening to all Chinese from China and prepare equipment to screen 100%,” said Public Health Permanent Secretary Sukhum Kanchanapimai.

Thailand had earlier screened passengers only from China’s central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, its southern city of Guangzhou and north-eastern Changchun across five airports, from Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok to those at Chiang Mai, Don Mueng, Phuket and Krabi.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul of Thailand, the country with the most confirmed cases outside China of the coronavirus, called an emergency meeting last Sunday with the transport and tourism ministries amid rising public discontent over the government's handling of the illness.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to other Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.

China is Thailand's biggest source of tourists and had nearly 11 million visitors from there last year.