On Monday, Thai authorities confirmed the first case of Wuhan pneumonia outside of China.
The woman, 61, identified as a Chinese tourist from the city in central Hubei province, has been receiving treatment in a hospital in Nonthaburi near Bangkok since January 8, but is now recovering, according to Bloomberg and Thai media outlets.
An expert said if further investigation found she had not been to Huanan Seafood Market, associated with the outbreak in Wuhan, it would suggest that the virus had spread to other parts of the city.
The news came as Hong Kong health officials on Monday arrived in Wuhan to gain first-hand knowledge of the disease, now known to be a new strain of coronavirus, which has infected at least 41 people in Wuhan and killed one.
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said in a press statement that the Chinese woman’s infection was confirmed on Sunday.
The woman now exhibited “no fever and is ready to return to her country”, the statement added.
Sixteen other people seated near the woman on the same flight were examined and their results were negative.
The World Health Organisation on Monday confirmed on their Twitter account that they were aware of the woman’s diagnosis and working with Thai and Chinese officials on the case.
In another press statement released later on Monday evening, WHO said there was a possibility that the virus could spread beyond China.
“The possibility of cases being identified in other countries is not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for ongoing active monitoring and preparedness in other countries,” the global watchdog said. It has issued guidelines on how to detect and treat patients.
In Thailand’s case, the woman was found to be suffering from a fever on arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on January 8, and was initially diagnosed with mild pneumonia in hospital, according to WHO.
Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there should be an investigation on whether the woman had visited the Wuhan seafood market first identified as ground zero of the outbreak.
“If she has not, it would be a big problem as it means game meat in other markets in Wuhan could also be infected with the virus, which then spread to people,” Hui said, pointing out that there was no clear evidence so far of transmission among humans.