Visitors at Changi Airport wearing masks after Singapore confirmed the first case of the Wuhan virus on the eve of the festive Lunar New Year. Photo: AFP/Zakaria Zainal/Anadolu Agency

The Wuhan virus has now spread from China to at least seven countries – Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States – and that number is expected to rise.

Countries all over the world have intensified efforts to stop the spread of the Wuhan virus, which can be difficult to detect amid fears the virus is mutating.

As the Lunar New Year starts, the virus is now being detected in a number of countries as Chinese tourists travel around the world on their annual holiday.

In Thailand, a popular holiday destination for Chinese tourists, four cases have been confirmed. Thailand has taken high-level measures to monitor and prevent the spread of a new coronavirus, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the Ministry of Public Health’s permanent secretary, told the Bangkok Post.

Japan also reported its second case of the virus on Friday, according to Kyodo news wire. The case was a visitor to the nation who arrived last Sunday and who made two visits to doctors before being positively diagnosed, according to Nikkei Asian Review. The first case had also been a visiting Chinese national.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed his cabinet to ensure border checks are stepped up.

Taiwan also confirmed its first case and closed its borders to residents of Wuhan amid concerns the country’s exclusion from the World Health Organization was keeping it from receiving timely updates on the deadly epidemic, The Diplomat reported.

Officials in Vietnam reported that country’s first two confirmed cases on Thursday after two Chinese nationals tested positive for the virus. A Chinese man living in Ho Chi Minh City was infected by his father, who traveled to Vietnam on January 13 from Wuhan.

In Singapore, two more people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of cases to three, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday. The two new patients include the 37-year-old son of the first confirmed case, the ministry said in a media briefing on Friday afternoon.

The United States has reported a confirmed case in Washington state. The man in his 30s had recently traveled to Wuhan, according to reports.

In South Korea, the second confirmed case of the virus was reported on Friday. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the infected man was a 55-year-old Korean who had been working in Wuhan.

According to a message sent to foreign reporters, the first case – a Chinese visitor to South Korea – was “currently receiving treatment in isolation.” He was “stable” and 44 of his contacts, including passengers and airport staff, nine had left the country and the remained were “under active monitoring.” The monitoring would last 14 days, the message noted.

Text messages were sent by South Korean authorities to all citizens’ smartphones, complete with an infographic on what and what not do to. Instructions included washing hands thoroughly and covering your mouth when coughing, and include a telephone hotline number.

The Korea Center for Disease Control, or KCDC, was advising anyone traveling to China “to avoid unprotected contact with wild animals including poultry.”

Anyone who had traveled to Wuhan in the last 14 days was required to submit a health questionnaire and report to a quarantine officer.

Quarantine procedures have been stepped up at all ports of entry. According to Yonhap news agency, Korean Air Lines announced on Thursday that it is suspending flights to Wuhan, while Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun was to hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss stepped-up measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Additional reporting by AFP

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