Health authorities in Germany’s southern Bavarian region have confirmed the country’s first case of the deadly coronavirus spreading in China.
The virus, which can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory infection, has in a matter of weeks killed at least 106 people and infected some 4,000 in China, while cases have been identified in more than a dozen other countries.
“A man in the Starnberg region has been infected with the new coronavirus,” a spokesperson for the ministry said, adding that the patient was under surveillance in an isolation ward.
The ministry gave no further details on how the patient came to be infected but said he was in a “medically good state”.
France was the first European country to be affected by the outbreak, which has reported three known cases of the virus.
All three had recently travelled to China and have been placed in isolation.
Germany has recommended its citizens avoid “unnecessary” trips to China as the virus spreads.
The country is also considering the possible evacuation of its nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.
China has tried to curb new infections by cordoning off entire cities right in the midst of the Lunar New Year, when millions of people normally travel to take holidays and visit family in other parts of the vast country.
Beijing has also extended the Lunar New Year holiday until Sunday in a bid to limit the movement of people.
The real number of infected in China could be much higher. Gabriel Leung, head of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said on Monday that his team’s research indicated that there were likely around 44,000 cases at the incubation stage.
Most of those who died from lung disease after catching the virus were elderly or had pre-existing conditions.
Cases of the coronavirus have also been reported in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United States, France and Australia.
Many countries in Europe and Asia are planning to repatriate their citizens from Wuhan. Japan, the United States and France have already begun repatriation operations.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses ranging from a common cold to more severe disease like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).
The new coronavirus was first discovered in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province in December.