January 02, 2020

Pneumonia Outbreak in China Spurs Fever Checks From Singapore to Taiwan
(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’s Center for Disease Control said Tuesday it had implemented similar measures.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 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.The World Health Organization 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.Fake NewsChinese officials have arrested several people for circulating fake news online about the viral spread of pneumonia, CNA Media reported Thursday. 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.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 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 city-state’s Ministry of Health said in a Facebook post.\--With assistance from Samson Ellis.To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Melbourne at j.gale@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, Tony JordanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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