Pneumonia Outbreak in China Spurs Fever Checks From Singapore to Taiwan – Yahoo News

(Bloomberg) — A mysterious pneumonia outbreak that’s sickened dozens of people in China has prompted airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan to introduce fever screening, as scientists search for the infectious source.

From Friday evening, 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. In Hong Kong, thermal imaging systems will be deployed as part of increased fever surveillance at boundary check points, authorities said. Taiwan has implemented similar measures, its Center for Disease Control said Tuesday.

Several clinics and hospitals in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, received patients suffering from pneumonia, officials announced on New Year’s Eve. Twenty-seven people associated with a fresh seafood and produce market fell ill with symptoms, including fever and shortness of breath. Seven were in serious condition and the others were in stable condition, officials in Hong Kong said Thursday.

The market, which has since been closed, sold birds, pheasants, and snakes, along with organs of rabbits and other wildlife, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis said Thursday, citing local media reports. That’s triggered 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.

The World Health Organization said it has activated an incident management team over the Wuhan cases to “ensure disease detection systems are sensitive, communication channels are open, and reporting is rapid across the region,” the South China Morning Post reported.

Investigations are still underway and authorities haven’t yet confirmed the pathogen that’s causing the illness, Paige Snider, a WHO spokeswoman, told the paper. The Wuhan Institute of Virology didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment on the infectious source.

Fake News

Several people were arrested for circulating fake news online about the viral spread of pneumonia, provincial authorities said, adding that rumors on social media alleging that there had been an outbreak of SARS are untrue and no person-to-person transmission has been found so far.

Three travelers from Wuhan were admitted to hospitals in Hong Kong, though two were subsequently released, the South China Morning Post reported late Thursday. The city has hasn’t received any Wuhan-related severe pneumonia cases, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told reporters Thursday.

Singapore asked doctors to look out for suspected cases of pneumonia among people 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 city-state’s Ministry of Health said in a Facebook post.

(Adds comments from Hong Kong authorities in third paragraph.)

–With assistance from Samson Ellis and Dong Lyu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Melbourne at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at [email protected], Tony Jordan

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