First Suspected Wuhan Pneumonia Case In S’pore Announced By Ministry Of Health

Fears of a SARS-like virus spreading in our region have been re-ignited with the emergence of a deadly pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China.

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The first suspected case of a similar strain detected in Singapore has been announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday (4 Jan), as reported by The Straits Times.

A 3-year-old girl from China has been warded for treatment & her symptoms will be monitored closely.

Here’s everything you should know about the viral outbreak and how you can minimise your chances of getting it.

Acute respiratory illness spikes in Wuhan’s seafood market

The deadly strain of pneumonia from Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province can be traced back to a seafood market with livestock available for sale.

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According to local reports, some of these vendors sold “birds and snakes” or “organs of rabbits” and exotic wildlife.

Fears of pathogen spreading from wildlife like SARS

When 44 pneumonia cases were detected in Dec 2019, it immediately sparked concerns that a zoonotic pathogen inducing a SARS-like virus was behind the infection.

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Back in 2003, the deadly SARS virus – originating from Southern China – had incubated in civet cats, with horseshoe bats playing host to the virus which eventually spread to humans.

Singapore saw 238 reported cases and 33 deaths — making SARS one of the deadliest viral outbreaks in our modern history.

MOH cautions for citizens to stay vigilant about flu symptoms

MOH has cautioned all medical practitioners to remain vigilant for pneumonia cases from patients who have recently travelled to Wuhan.

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Symptoms will typically occur within 14 days, and suspected cases will be isolated to curb the spread of the virus.

Chinese health authorities have already ruled out other respiratory diseases like:

  • Influenza
  • Bird Flu
  • Adenovirus Infection

As per the most recent update, 11 patients are in critical condition, while 121 people who were in close contact with patients are being carefully monitored for symptoms.

Temperature screening at Changi Airport

Those who are planning trips to the affected regions in China should look out for temperature screening exercises at Changi Airport from 3 Jan 2020.

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Travellers will also be notified of possible symptoms when disembarking from their flights, confirms the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

No human-to-human transmission, yet

Thankfully, the risks of getting Wuhan’s pneumonia are low in Singapore. This is due to 2 main reasons:

  • China’s relatively quick response & transparency in closing the affected market
  • No human-to-human transmission has been reported yet

The 3-year-old girl is reportedly in “stable condition”, and she was not a visitor of the original seafood market in Wuhan.

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She’s also tested positive for “Respiratory Syncytial Virus”, which The Straits Times reports commonly causes “childhood pneumonia”.

Seek proper treatment for flu symptoms in Singapore

Though risks of the virus spreading in Singapore are low, here’s a breakdown of the symptoms as reported by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission:

  • Flu symptoms
  • Fever
  • Abnormal lung lesions in chest X-rays
  • Difficulty breathing

For now, we can all play our part by seeking proper medical treatment if we do exhibit any regular flu symptoms.

We send our well-wishes to the family of the 3-year-old girl and hope she makes a swift recovery in time for the Lunar New Year.

Featured image adapted from NFID & Science Mag.