8 passengers from Wuhan to Taiwan exhibit fever amid mystery pneumonia outbreak

Immunologist suspects novel coronavirus of causing respiratory illness as China races to prevent SARS-like outbreak

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Taiwan CDC briefs on pneumonia scare. (CDC photo) 

Taiwan CDC briefs on pneumonia scare. (CDC photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A total of eight passengers aboard eight different direct flights from Wuhan to Taiwan have developed fever since Dec. 31 amid the mysterious pneumonia outbreak in the central Chinese city, said Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Sunday (Jan. 5).

Among the flights' 727 passengers and crew members who have undergone temperature tests, eight exhibited fever and have been allowed to return home. Three are being closely monitored by local health authorities, according to the CDC.

The CDC urged the public to maintain good hygiene, including frequent handwashing, and to avoid contact with wildlife and poultry should they plan to visit Wuhan, the Hubei Province capital where an outbreak of atypical pneumonia has triggered a public health scare and raised the specter of the lethal SARS.

At least 44 cases of viral pneumonia had been reported in Wuhan as of Jan. 3; among them, 11 were critical, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. The patients have been quarantined as the investigation seeks to identify the pathogen causing the illness.

Preliminary results have ruled out viruses that typically cause respiratory diseases, including adenoviruses, influenza, and bird flu, said the commission.

While Chinese authorities insist there have been no signs of human-to-human transmission involved in the cluster of cases, a decisive factor that set off the SARS pandemic, Wang Yuedan, (王月丹), a professor of immunology at the Peking University School of Basic Medical Sciences, warned that such a possibility cannot be ruled out and surmised that the culprit could be a novel coronavirus, wrote UDN.

Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, which is reportedly the origin of most of the early pneumonia cases, has been shut down to undergo sterilization as speculation swirls that wild animals sold there could be to blame. Hong Kong and Singapore have also recorded pneumonia cases among those who have recently traveled to Wuhan and are taking measures recommended by the World Health Organization.