Chinese woman with mystery virus quarantined in Thailand


BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Chinese woman has been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain of coronavirus just days ahead of the Lunar New Year, when Chinese tourists flock to Thailand, authorities said on Monday, the first time it has been detected outside China.

A 61-year-old man has died from pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan after an outbreak of the yet to be identified virus while seven were in critical condition, Wuhan health authorities said on Saturday.

Thai authorities are stepping up monitoring at airports ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists are expected to visit.

Of 12 passengers quarantined since Jan. 3, lab results show that a 61-year-old Chinese woman carried a strain of the coronavirus, the Thai Health Ministry said on Monday.

The woman, who was quarantined on Wednesday, had received treatment and was well enough to return home, the ministry said.

“Being able to identify a patient shows that there is efficiency in our monitoring system. We are confident that we can manage the situation,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters.

The Chinese outbreak of pneumonia appeared to be linked to a single seafood market in Wuhan and had not so far spread beyond there, the World Health Organisation said on Sunday.

WHO officials in Thailand were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

Thailand receives about 10 million Chinese tourists each year. The Lunar New Year holiday begins on Jan. 25.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; editing by Nick Macfie

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