A mysterious pneumonia outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province that has sickened dozens has prompted airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan to introduce fever screening, as scientists search for the infectious source.
From the evening today, temperature screening will be implemented at Changi Airport for all travelers arriving from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said.
Singapore asked doctors to look out for suspected cases with pneumonia who have recently returned from Wuhan. “Suspect cases with fever and acute respiratory illness or pneumonia and with travel history to Wuhan within 14 days before onset of symptoms will be isolated as a precautionary measure to prevent transmission,” the Ministry of Health said in a Facebook post.
Health advisory posters for all travellers will be put up at Changi Airport and a health advisory will be provided to all inbound travellers on flights from Wuhan, the ministry said.
The ministry advised those vitising Wuhan to monitor their health and to get medical attention promptly if they feel unwell. They should inform their doctor of their travel history, CNA reports.
In Hong Kong, thermal imaging systems will be used as part of increased fever surveillance at boundary check points, authorities said.
Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control said Tuesday it had implemented similar measures.
Several clinics and hospitals in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, received patients suffering from pneumonia, officials announced on New Year’s Eve.
Twenty-seven people were reported by Chinese media to have been infected, with seven of them seriously ill. Cases were linked to a fresh produce market that has since been closed, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis said Thursday, citing local media reports.
The market sold birds, pheasants, and snakes, along with organs of rabbits and other wildlife, triggering worries about the potential jump of an unknown virus to humans reminiscent of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which killed almost 800 people about 17 years ago.
Chinese officials have arrested several people for circulating fake news online about the viral spread of pneumonia, CNA Media reported yesterday.
Rumors on social media alleged that there had been an outbreak of SARS, the Singapore-based broadcaster said.
Authorities said it is untrue and no person-to-person transmission has been found so far.
In Singapore, 238 people were infected and the SARS virus killed 33 people.
Three travelers from Wuhan were admitted to hospitals in Hong Kong, though two were subsequently released. The city has has not received any Wuhan-related severe pneumonia cases, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told reporters.
The World Health Organization (WHO) criticised China for under reporting the number of SARS cases following the outbreak in 2003.
SARS killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2003.