Taiwan has confirmed its first case of the new strain of coronavirus that has infected almost 300 people across mainland China and spread to three other Asian countries.
A 55-year-old woman was diagnosed with pneumonia caused by the virus after she returned to Taiwan from Wuhan, where the outbreak began, on Monday evening.
The Taiwanese woman, who worked in the mainland city, was immediately placed in hospital quarantine after she landed at Taoyuan International Airport.
"The woman developed fever symptoms on January 11 but did not check into a local hospital in Wuhan," Huang Wang-ting, a doctor with the Taiwan Central Epidemic Command Centre, told a press conference on Tuesday evening.
Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that none of the patient's family members had developed symptoms and 46 other individuals who had been in close contact on the plane had been placed under medical observation.
Six people have died so far from the virus in Wuhan, and on Tuesday the local health authorities said a further 15 medical workers in the central Chinese city had been affected.
The National Health Commission said there had been 291 confirmed cases on the mainland up to midnight on Monday, 270 of which were from Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province.
Four more cases were confirmed in Shanghai as well as one new case in Zhejiang province on Tuesday.
The virus has already spread to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong. Cases have also been confirmed in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
The World Health Organisation said on Monday that it would call an emergency meeting on Wednesday to decide whether the outbreak should be declared an international public health emergency.
One of China's leading severe acute respiratory syndrome specialists confirmed that the virus was contagious among humans and was likely to have originated from wild animals.
Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, said that human-to-human transmission had occurred and highlighted the risk from "super spreaders" - patients who can spread the disease quickly - and the spread of the virus among medical staff.
"The key to controlling the spread of the disease now is about preventing the emergence of a super-spreader (of the virus)," Zhong said.
The virus, which belongs to the same family as Sars, is thought to have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan that also sold live wild animals.
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