Japan confirmed the first case of infection from the new China corona virus that has killed one person and prompted a travel alert from the US  State Department.

A man in his 30s from Kanagawa prefecture, next to Tokyo, tested positive, Japan’s health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The man had been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where there has been an outbreak of pneumonia believed to be caused by the new corona virus strain, it said.

The State Department issued a health alert update on Wednesday about travel to the Wuhan region. It referenced a Watch Level 1 Alert by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging citizens travelling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets or animal products, among other precautions.

Thai health authorities said on Wednesday they were stepping up monitoring of passengers arriving at airports ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when 800 000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the new virus could spread and has warned hospitals worldwide.

Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while some – like the one that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – are far more severe.

The Japanese patient returned from Wuhan this month with a fever and was hospitalised. He was released on Wednesday after the symptoms subsided, according to the health ministry statement.