Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Travelers from Wuhan are feverish after arriving in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore, days after dozens of people fell ill following a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in the central Chinese city.
Macau's health authorities said they have confirmed five suspicious cases from Wuhan in the past five days. Four of the cases were dismissed as the flu or the common cold, and the last case continues to be under investigation, Hong Kong's Ming Pao reported Monday.
The outbreak began in late December, when a total of 27 people, most of them vendors at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, were hospitalized after exhibiting severe respiratory problems.
The symptoms of the disease could be triggering fears in China of a second Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, similar to the epidemic that rocked the mainland and Hong Kong from 2002 to 2003, killing hundreds of people.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has ruled out SARS and denied the disease was Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, according to the BBC on Sunday.
The number of people in China who are being monitored for symptoms of the yet unnamed disease is growing. A total of 59 cases have been reported in Wuhan by Sunday, with seven people in critical condition. The Wuhan health commission has also said 163 people who have had contact with those infected are under "medical observation."
In Taiwan, a total of eight passengers from Wuhan have been showing signs of fever after arriving at airports since Dec. 31, according to Taiwan News on Sunday.
Wang Yuedan, a professor of immunology at the Peking University School of Basic Medical Sciences, said human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, and that the cause of the disease could be a new coronavirus, according to Taiwan's United Daily News.
The World Health Organization said it is in contact with Beijing.
"There are many potential causes of viral pneumonia, many of which are more common than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus," a WHO spokesman said last week.