Seafarers contract Wuhan coronavirus

PSA Singapore terminal. Credit: PSA

Four seafarers, one in Singapore and three in China, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

On 29 January 2020, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that a Chinese national from Wuhan arrived in the city-state on 20 January on the cargo ship on which he worked, and was singled out as a suspect case after passing through a health screening station at Marina South Pier.

The ship, which was not identified, is being isolated and disinfected at an anchorage off Singapore.

Similar to many countries, Singapore has set up temperature screening booths at entry points, paying particular attention to people from Wuhan, Hubei’s provincial capital, or those who have arrived from China.

On 29 January, Singapore began denying entry to new visitors who had visited Hubei province or are Chinese nationals from Wuhan.

On 28 January, the health committee of Wuhu, a city in China’s Anhui province, announced that coronavirus tests were positive for three crew who worked on a vessel that transported cargoes along the Yangtze River, between Wuhan and Changshu in Jiangsu province. All three men are from Hubei province.

The men had arrived in Wuhan from Changshu on 19 January and their vessel set out for Changshu on 21 January.

The Wuhu health committee said, “As the vessel passed through the Wuhu leg of the Yangtze River, two of the crewmen felt feverish and radioed for medical attention. The pair was conveyed to a hospital in Wuhu by ambulance. As the third crewman displayed pneumonia-like symptoms, he was transported ashore by speedboat before being transferred to another hospital.”

Five other crew members who had close contact with the infected men are being quarantined on the ship.

The situation has become more desperate, with the World Health Organization declaring a global health emergency over the coronavirus.

As of 30 January, there are 9,692 infections in China alone, far exceeding the SARS epidemic in 2002-03, which killed almost 800 people worldwide. More than 200 deaths have occurred, all in China.

The coronavirus, which surfaced in December 2019, has spread beyond China, with cases reported in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, France, Germany, Sri Lanka, India, Canada, and the US.