Five more people in Thailand have been confirmed as carrying the 2019-nCoV coronavirus, bringing the total thus far to 19, of whom seven victims have already recovered.
Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai gave the update at 4pm on Friday (January 31), saying four of the newly discovered victims were from the central Chinese province of Hubei where the virus originated and the other is a Thai male taxi driver who has never been to China.
Sukhum said the taxi driver had been confirmed as Thailand’s first case of “local transmission” of the virus, meaning he contracted it without travelling to China.
It is likely, though, that he was infected by a passenger who came from there or had been there.
It is the risk of the virus’ spread among people who do not travel anywhere near the source that prompted the World Health Organisation this week to deem the outbreak an international public health emergency.
The five other members of the cabbie’s family and eight other people close to him have been tested and cleared of infection.
The driver and 11 other people are in quarantine facilities under close observation.
Outside China and Thailand, local transmissions have also been identified in the United States, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.