Chinese authorities confirmed the first death linked to the mysterious viral pneumonia that hit the city of Wuhan. The case sparked concerns since the never-before-seen virus reportedly already went outside of the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that a female traveler visiting Thailand tested positive for the virus. Genetic tests confirmed the 61-year-old contracted the same strain of coronavirus that infected people in Wuhan, Ars Technica reported Monday.
WHO said the sick traveler is the first case of the viral infection recorded outside of China. The woman received treatment and was able to return home, the Thai Health Ministry told Reuters.
“Being able to identify a patient shows that there is efficiency in our monitoring system,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said. “We are confident that we can manage the situation.”
WHO said that other countries should continue monitoring travelers to prevent the viral pneumonia from spreading in other areas. The Thai case comes after China confirmed the first recorded death amid the outbreak.
A 61-year-old man died from the disease in Wuhan in early January. Officials said he tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus and suffered from respiratory failure and severe pneumonia.
Initial investigations associated the viral pneumonia with food from a live-animal market in the city. Wuhan recorded 41 cases of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus.
Among all patients, six were hospitalized with severe conditions. Seven other patients have been treated and discharged.
Wuhan officials said there are 687 people currently under observations due to reported contacts with the first patients. Scientists noted that there are no signs that the virus can spread from person to person.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that have long been linked to respiratory infections in humans, including the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They can also infect animals, such as cats, dogs, bats, mice and birds.
Officials in Wuhan closed the South China Seafood Wholesale Market, where the outbreak reportedly started. Tests are ongoing to determine the best treatment and the origin of the virus.