Tokyo reports first case of pneumonia from the Chinese epidemic. Asia on alert

The man had been in Wuhan, a city in central China where the new coronavirus originated. It is the second case discovered outside of China after the hospitalization of a woman in Thailand. Asian governments take precautions in anticipation of the Lunar New Year, when the influx of Chinese tourists will increase.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Chinese man tested positive in the first confirmed Japanese case of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus from China. Tokyo’s Ministry of Health and government sources report that health authorities in Wuhan, central China, diagnosed the virus - known as 2019-nCoV - to 41 people, including one patient who died.

Japan is the second infection discovered outside of China after a case in Thailand. The news comes a few days before the Lunar New Year, a peak period for Chinese tourists traveling abroad: health officials from all over Asia are now on high alert and are taking preventive measures.

The first Japanese case of new pneumonia concerns a man in his thirties, residing in the prefecture of Kanagawa (south of Tokyo). The man developed a fever on January 3 while in Wuhan and was hospitalized in Japan on the 10th, but was discharged two days ago because he had recovered and is now recovering from home. He no longer has a fever but has a slight cough. On his return to Japan, the man passed the airport quarantine test because he had taken medicine.

Meanwhile, Asian governments are taking precautions ahead of the Lunar New Year when the influx of Chinese tourists increases. According to protocols introduced more than 15 years ago during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, foreigners arriving in Japan will be invited to visit a medical facility if they feel unwell. Elsewhere in Asia, health officials have stored protective equipment, preparing isolation beds and even boarding trains to individually check passengers for the virus.

Yesterday, the Vietnam Ministry of Health confirmed that two Chinese visitors to Wuhan were placed in solitary confinement after arriving two days ago in Da Nang with fever-like symptoms. Indonesia has stepped up the selection of travelers entering airports and seaports, focusing in particular on passengers traveling from China through Singapore to the islands of Batam and Bintan. Thermal scanners have been installed in all accesses to the country, to check visitors' temperatures.

In Thailand, authorities earlier this week confirmed the first coronavirus case outside China when a Wuhan woman was hospitalized in Nonthaburi near Bangkok. She was admitted on arrival with symptoms including fever, sore throat and headache.

According to the Thailand Tourism Council, around 800,000 Chinese tourists are expected in the country during the Lunar New Year. The Ministry of Public Health will continue to monitor the four Thai airports where daily flights from Wuhan arrive - Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, Chiang Mai and Phuket - adding Krabi airport in southern Thailand to the list of sensitive airports.