A man who had traveled to Japan after visiting the central Chinese city of Wuhan was infected with a new pneumonia-causing virus, widening the spread of the SARS-like germ first reported in China less than three weeks ago.
According to Bloomberg, the man in his 30s, who lives south of Tokyo, spent time with an infected person in Wuhan, Japanese health officials said Thursday. He developed a fever on Jan. 3 before returning to Japan on Jan. 6, according to a statement. He was hospitalized with pneumonia on Jan. 10 and discharged with a mild cough five days later.
Like a case reported Monday in a Chinese traveler to Thailand, the man hadn’t visited the wholesale seafood market in Wuhan implicated in the outbreak, which has hospitalized dozens of people, killing one. The novel coronavirus, thought to be the source of the infections, has captured international attention because of similarities with the one that sparked Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, 17 years ago.
There’s no evidence the so-called 2019-nCoV virus spreads from person to person and it’s difficult to imagine a major increase in infections, Hiroshi Umeda, an official with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, told reporters in Tokyo. That’s unlike SARS, which killed almost 800 people.
Still, cases in Japan and Thailand reported this week suggest it may be spreading more widely in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and will continue to expand its geographic reach while scientists search for the source.
The outbreak is linked to a wholesale seafood market in Wuhan that also sold live animals such as poultry, bats, and marmots, along with wildlife parts. That’s prompted concern that the infectious respiratory pathogen has emerged from an as-yet unidentified animal reservoir.
Since the patient in Japan didn’t visit the seafood market in Wuhan, it’s possible he was infected via another source.