An elderly Thai woman has defied the ‘one-in-a-million’ odds to survive her battle with the deadly coronavirus that has struck down almost 25,000 people across the world and killed nearly 500.
And a four-year-old Chinese girl has become the first patient in Malaysia to recover from the SARS-like infection. She spent days quarantined in hospital to fight off the never-before-seen virus.
Their survival offers a glimmer of hope for scientists desperately trying to contain the outbreak, which has infected people in almost 30 territories or countries and seen dozens of nations ban travellers from China.
Figures from Chinese authorities suggest almost 1,000 patients have recorded from the virus, which can lead to pneumonia. But experts say the infection poses little threat to healthy adults.
However, it can prove life-threatening for patients with already compromised immune systems, such as the old, the young and adults battling medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cancer.
Jaimuay Sae-ung, 73, was the first Thai national to catch the deadly virus – 24 other patients have been diagnosed in the country. She had visited Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the escalating outbreak.
Mrs Sae-ung’s family were reportedly concerned she may die because she had an underlying heart problem – it has not been revealed what this condition was. But she pulled through.
She told local media that she was suffering from a fever and exhaustion, which she assumed may have been down her walking a lot during her trip to China. Mrs Sae-ung even feared it could have been a sign of a heart disease.
Doctors confirmed she had the coronavirus when she went to Nakhon Pathom Hospital upon her return to Thailand on January 3. Speaking about her ordeal, Mrs Sae-ung told Sky News she was whisked off to isolation.
Mrs Sae-ung, who developed pneumonia, said: ‘I was confused why I had to be in the [isolation] room. There were two to three layers of glass.’ She also revealed she was scared by the strict quarantine she was placed in.
Medics treating her wore fully protective suits, with only their eyes visible, she told The Bangkok Post.
The mother-of-seven also revealed she wasn’t allowed to see any of her family but could video call them.
Mrs Sae-ung’s condition improved after spending just three days in hospital, and she was eventually discharged nine days after first being treated – meaning she was home in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Discussing her recovery, Mrs Sae-ung’s daughter, Krittika Sae-ung, told Sky News: ‘It’s one in a million – we are the luckiest.
‘I don’t know how to explain it – I can only say we are so lucky. I feel happy and I feel uplifted.’
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, the virus can lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid.
It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
In an interview with local media, Mrs Sae-ung also revealed that she did not go to any fresh markets while on holiday.
Tests have shown humans caught the infection from wildlife being sold at a closed-down market in Wuhan.
In Malaysia, a four-year-old girl from China who was on holiday with her family has become the first patient to recover from the deadly coronavirus.
The girl, who has not been named, had been diagnosed with the coronavirus on 29th January and was then treated in an isolation ward in a hospital in Langkawi, a popular holiday destination in Malaysia.
The girl has now been treated and passed two detection tests for the virus, confirming she was no longer suffering from the infection.
The Director-General of Malaysia’s Health Ministry, Noor Hisham Abdullah, told reporters the girl was ‘in good health’ and ‘has been allowed to return home’.
Reports state the girl will return to China with her family with a health certificate issued by the hospital where she was treated.
Ten people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Malaysia, nine of whom were Chinese nationals on holiday. The first case of a Malaysian national contracting the virus was confirmed on Tuesday.
The unnamed man, 42, had been in Singapore for a business meeting with Chinese nationals and began showing symptoms of the virus six days after his return to his native country.
He is reportedly in a stable condition and is receiving treatment at Sungai Buloh Hospital.