Countries in Southeast Asia are on high alert over fears that a mysterious respiratory illness gripping a central Chinese city could spread after a scare in Singapore.
In Singapore, a three-year-old girl with pneumonia was warded and isolated after travelling from Wuhan as a precautionary measure.
But on Saturday, the Ministry of Health said tests confirmed her pneumonia was not linked to the virus outbreak in Wuhan, reported local news site Today Online.
“Epidemiological investigations, clinical assessment and laboratory results from the suspect case… showed the case is not linked to the pneumonia cluster in Wuhan,” said the ministry.
Health authorities in Malaysia have set up temperature screening facilities in airports to single out any passengers with abnormal temperatures.
“We will monitor the international entry points to ensure that arrivals from Wuhan go through temperature screening, and if [a] temperature is detected, a second examination will be carried out at the quarantine centre.
“Those suspected of being infected by the illness would be referred to the nearest medical facility,” said the Malaysian Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division.
In Thailand, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul urged the general public to stay calm and gave assurances that travellers that airports serving daily flights from Wuhan have had temperature screening devices installed.
According to the Bangkok Post, Mr Charnvirakul said health officials have dealt with communicable diseases including bird flu and SARS before.
He said: “We have things under control. There’s no problem here.”
Hong Kong authorities have activated a newly-created “serious response” level in response to the outbreak.
The Hospital Authority there said on Sunday there were 15 patients being treated for symptoms after recent visits to Wuhan.
As of Sunday, 59 people were diagnosed with the mystery illness, which has been dubbed Wuhan pneumonia, and have been isolated while they receive treatment.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said seven of those diagnosed were in critical condition.
Initial investigations ruled out SARS as well as Middle East respiratory syndrome, influenza, bird flu and adenovirus.
“As of now, preliminary investigations have shown no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission and no medical staff infections,” said the commission.
The spread of the illness in the city echoes the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that killed over 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Several patients were working at the South China Seafood City food market in Wuhan, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) said could indicate an exposure link to animals.
The WHO said it is closely monitoring the situation and maintaining contact with Chinese authorities, but have no advised any necessary travel or trade restrictions at this time.