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Passenger from China's Wuhan develops fever amid pneumonia fears

Taiwanese health authorities keep close eye on pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan

Taiwan tightens screening on visitors from Wuhan. (CDC photo)

Taiwan tightens screening on visitors from Wuhan. (CDC photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A passenger who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 31 via Wuhan has developed a fever as the island country ramps up border screening efforts following the outbreak of atypical pneumonia in the central Chinese city.

The six-year-old passenger, who had been on board a flight to Taiwan, had transferred in the Hubei Province capital of Wuhan. Given that the child has received a flu vaccine, had not been traveling in Wuhan, and had not had any contact with livestock, the child was allowed to return home and will be closely monitored, said Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Taiwan is on high alert, and strict screening measures have been implemented in the wake of the 27 cases of atypical pneumonia believed to have been caused by an unidentified viral strain. The incident has triggered a public health scare, with some likening it to the lethal SARS epidemic of 2002-2003.

The fact that the Chinese authorities have yet to disclose the culprit behind the outbreak three days after the first case was recorded makes the event suspicious, said Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁) of the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI). He urged the island’s health authorities to send an investigation team to Wuhan to find out more, wrote UDN.

The hygiene conditions of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (華南海鮮市場), where the 27 cases were reported, have also drawn public concern. Chinese netizens revealed that the market not only sells seafood but also a wide variety of meat from wildlife, including cats, snakes, and marmots, wrote Liberty Times.

The market has been shut down indefinitely as the investigation continues. It is believed that certain wild animals sold at local markets in Guangdong were associated with the virus that caused SARS.