First case of new mystery virus identified outside of China

A Chinese tourist was hospitalized in Thailand.

January 13, 2020, 1:00 PM

A case of the mysterious new coronavirus strain was identified in Thailand, health officials said Monday, marking the first such known infection outside of China.

The patient, a tourist from Wuhan, China, was hospitalized in Thailand on Jan. 8, according to the World Health Organization, and is recovering there.

"The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for ongoing active monitoring and preparedness in other countries," WHO said in a statement.

While Chinese authorities initially reported 59 cases of the new virus, they've since adjusted that number to 41 confirmed cases. Of those cases, six are considered to be severe, and one patient, who had serious underlying medical conditions, according to WHO, died.

More than 700 close contacts are being monitored for signs of the disease.

PHOTO: Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, right, speaks next to Wong Ka-hing, the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health during a press conference in Hong Kong, Jan. 11, 2020.
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, right, speaks next to Wong Ka-hing, the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health during a press conference in Hong Kong, Jan. 11, 2020.
Andy Wong/AP

Many of those affected worked in a large seafood market in Wuhan, where live animals were sold. The market has since been closed to investigate and sanitize the facility.

PHOTO: This photo, provided by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (KCDC), shows a new strain of the coronavirus. The KCDC said on Jan. 13, 2020, that the virus is strongly connected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
This photo, provided by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (KCDC), shows a new strain of the coronavirus. The KCDC said on Jan. 13, 2020, that the virus is strongly connected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Yonhap News via Newscom

Last week, China released a genetic sequence of the new coronavirus, which is in the same family as SARS, MERS and the common cold.

Symptoms of the disease include difficulty breathing, fever and lesions on the lungs, which were revealed through chest X-rays.

PHOTO: In this Jan. 4, 2020, file photo, a health surveillance officer monitors passengers arriving at the Hong Kong International airport in Hong Kong.
In this Jan. 4, 2020, file photo, a health surveillance officer monitors passengers arriving at the Hong Kong International airport in Hong Kong.
Andy Wong/AP

"The genetic sequencing shared by China enables more countries to rapidly diagnose patients," WHO said.

For now, WHO is not issuing any travel guidance for Wuhan, a major transportation hub with a population of 11 million, that's 700 miles south of Beijing.

The organization noted that heavy travel is expected during Chinese New Year, beginning Jan. 25, which raises the risk of cases being reported outside of China.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events