First case of new virus behind China outbreak found in Thailand â WHO
A man holding her daughter leaves the Wuhan Medical Treatment Centre, where a man who died from a respiratory illness was confined, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, on January 12, 2020. A 61-year-old man has become the first person to die in China from a respiratory illness believed caused by a new virus from the same family as SARS, which claimed hundreds of lives more than a decade ago, authorities said.
Noel Celis/AFP

First case of new virus behind China outbreak found in Thailand — WHO

(Agence France-Presse) - January 13, 2020 - 9:42pm

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization confirmed Monday the first case in Thailand of a new virus from the same family as SARS that is behind a Chinese pneumonia outbreak.

The UN health agency said a person travelling from Wuhan, China, had been hospitalized in Thailand on January 8 after being diagnosed with mild pneumonia.

"Laboratory testing subsequently confirmed that the novel coronavirus was the cause," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in an email, referring to the new virus.

WHO said it might soon host an emergency meeting on the spread of the new virus.

The case marks the first outside of China, where 41 people with pneumonia-like symptoms have so far been diagnosed with the new virus in the central city of Wuhan, with one of the victims dying last Thursday.

The episode has caused alarm due to the spectre of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which in 2002-2003 killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong, whose economy was hit hard by the epidemic's devastating impact on tourism.

The WHO has confirmed that the outbreak in China has been caused by a previously unknown type of corona virus, a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

The agency said Monday it had been informed by Thai health officials that the patient there was recovering from the illness.

It stressed that it was not surprising that the virus had spread beyond China.

"The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries," it said in a statement.

It pointed out that it had issued guidance on how to detect and treat people who fall ill with the new virus, and stressed that China's decision to rapidly share the genetic sequencing of the virus made it possible to quickly diagnose patients.

WHO has not recommended any specific measures for travellers or restrictions on trade with China, but stressed Monday it was taking the situation seriously.

"Given developments, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will consult with Emergency Committee members and could call for a meeting of the committee on short notice," it said in a statement.

CHINA PNEUMONIA OUTBREAK THAILAND WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 23, 2021 - 2:22pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

January 23, 2021 - 2:22pm

The World Health Organization says it was too early to draw any conclusions from its mission to Wuhan as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic started in China.

A team of WHO experts arrived in Wuhan on January 14 to start probing the origins of the deadly coronavirus, more than a year after the first cases were detected in the central Chinese city.

They were whisked to a hotel to complete a two-week quarantine. — AFP

January 23, 2021 - 9:15am

Thousands of Hong Kongers are ordered to stay in their homes on Saturday for the city's first coronavirus lockdown as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts.

The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighborhood of Jordan from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test.

Officials say they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district". — AFP

January 22, 2021 - 2:09pm

The number of people taking their own lives in Japan rose for the first time in over a decade last year, as the pandemic reversed years of progress combatting a stubbornly high suicide rate.

Japan's health and welfare ministry said Friday that 20,919 people died by suicide in 2020 according to preliminary data, up 3.7 percent from the previous year. That compares with 3,460 deaths from coronavirus in the same period.

It marks the first year-on-year rise in suicides in more than a decade, with women and children in particular taking their lives at higher rates. — AFP

January 21, 2021 - 8:02am

The number of US COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday surpassed the country's toll of military fatalities in World War II, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

As of the evening, the tracker showed that 405,400 people have died from the disease caused by the new coronavirus in the United States.

The total number of combat and non-combat deaths in World War II was 405,399, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The figure is a stark reminder of the pandemic's cost as newly-elected President Joe Biden begins his term. — AFP

January 20, 2021 - 8:52pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,058,226 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally from official sources at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

More than 96,144,670 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

These figures are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and exclude later re-evaluations by statistical organisations as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain. —  AFP

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