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China coronavirus: three new cases test positive in Hong Kong, potentially increasing total number of patients to five

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Source: SCMP

As of Friday noon, the death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China hit 26, among at least 875 confirmed cases. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Travellers at the departure hall of the West Kowloon rail station. The first coronavirus patient in Hong Kong was detected upon arrival at the station. Photo: HandoutTravellers at the departure hall of the West Kowloon rail station. The first coronavirus patient in Hong Kong was detected upon arrival at the station. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong has three new cases of patients testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, potentially increasing the total number to five so far.

Centre for Health Prevention controller Wong Ka-hing on Friday said preliminary results showed that two patients were infected although laboratory staff were doing further tests. The Post has also learned that a third patient tested positive for the coronavirus. Wong also revealed that Japan’s second confirmed patient had taken a plane to Hong Kong on a transfer flight to the Northeast Asian country, the patient had told authorities. Wong said the latest cases involved two 62-year-old women who had been in Wuhan within 14 days of falling ill. One was being treated in Tuen Mun Hospital and the other at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

Two medical sources told the Post the woman in Tuen Mun Hospital had arrived in Hong Kong on January 19 and had gone to a hospital in Wuhan to visit a patient. The woman, a resident of Hankou in Wuhan, went to Tuen Mun Hospital on Thursday night. In Hong Kong, she stayed at her daughter’s home, they said. The second source said the woman in the Sha Tin hospital was one of two patients from Wuhan who tried to escape when they found out they needed to be put in isolation. Her husband also tested positive for the coronavirus, one of the sources said, making him the fifth case. Authorities had found the couple and put them in quarantine. Wong said the patient in Japan was from Wuhan and had taken a flight to Hong Kong on January 19. The patient then travelled on to Tokyo’s Narita airport on CX500. Cathay Pacific Group later said the patient had arrived on KA853.
 
The first coronavirus patient in Hong Kong was a 39-year-old mainland tourist, who arrived at West Kowloon on Tuesday. The second, a 56-year-old Hongkonger, had visited Wuhan. The latest developments came as authorities reported 70 more suspected cases of infection as of noon over the past day as a result of broader criteria for people showing symptoms. The youngest case is a seven-month-old baby and the oldest patient aged 91. The total number of suspected cases reached 236 as of 8am on Friday. By evening, authorities said there were 96 patients hospitalised and in isolation, with 91 in stable condition. Two others were in serious condition, and another three were in critical condition because of their own illnesses.

Earlier in the day, Dr Chung Kin-lai, the Hospital Authority’s director of quality and safety, said the increase was due to officials widening their reporting Wong and respiratory medicine expert Professor David Hui Shu-cheong said the city had stepped up measures at border checkpoints, but neither could say whether Hong Kong should close its borders with the mainland or ban suspected cases from entering. “I think we have been stepping up port health measures. But closing the border is beyond the health authority – it’s not a port health prevention control measure,” Wong said. Hui said it was decision to be taken at diplomatic levels. He added the city had not yet seen infections in the community as occurred during the Sars outbreak in 2003. But Hui urged the organisers of mass events to think more about the risks involved. “For example, the marathon, many people from different places will gather and participate, including some who might be coming from infected areas,” he said. He suggested the public wear masks on public transport or in crowded areas such as shopping malls. “It is not practical for ordinary people to wear a surgical mask all day,” he said, advising residents to use a new mask after taking off an old one to eat food.

As of Friday noon, the death toll in mainland China hit 26, among at least 875 confirmed cases. The virus has spread to other areas of the world, including Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, while Macau reported its second case on Thursday, a 66-year-old tourist from Wuhan. The two confirmed cases in Hong Kong were treated as “highly suspected” after preliminary diagnostic tests returned positive results on Wednesday. Subsequent DNA test results confirmed their diagnosis on Thursday.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch at the Centre for Health Protection, said three people who had been in close contact with the two confirmed coronavirus patients in the city had been placed in quarantine at Princess Margaret Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital. Another five people who had close contacts with the two patients had been placed in quarantine at one of the two holiday camps set for the purpose – Lady MacLehose Holiday Village and Lei Yue Mun Park. “So far, we’ve been able to trace 18 people who had close contacts with the two patients. We will keep tracking them,” she said. She said as long as those who had close contacts with the two confirmed patients were not tested positive for the virus, there was little chance for a massive outbreak of the disease in Hong Kong.

Dr Chung of the Hospital Authority said the sharp rise in the suspected cases had posed a huge burden on isolation wards, with half of 570 isolation beds taken while more than 70 per cent of 309 isolation wards occupied. He said the Hospital Authority might have to reduce non-emergency medical procedures and services during Lunar New Year to cope with the rising demand for medical resources and manpower. “During this period, doctors may reduce their outpatient services. We will operate our drugs refill clinics to ensure patients get their prescribed medicines. I beg for public understanding,” he said. Dr Chung said some medical workers who had shown flu symptoms had been arranged staff accommodation on various hospital premises. “So far, no medical worker has been tested positive,” he said. He also said while the authority was trying to rent hotel rooms to temporarily accommodate its workers, most hotels had turned down its requests. He said a couple of patients who had come to hospitals with flu symptoms following visits to Wuhan, tried to run away when they knew they would be isolated. “The hospitals called police and intercepted them in the vicinity. They have already been placed in quarantine,” he said. There was also widespread online rumours that Chui Tak-yi, undersecretary for food and health who recently visited Wuhan to study the situation, was suspected of having been infected. But the government strongly refuted the claim, saying all members of the delegation to Wuhan were in good health.

In Macau, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau announced on Friday that following the Lunar New Year holiday, classes in non-higher education schools would be resumed on February 10 or later, instead of February 3. Schools have been asked to make necessary arrangements so students can carry out their exercises at home, while private teaching support centres and continuing education institutions have also been asked to postpone the restart dates of their activities to February 10 or later, depending on the situation at that time.

Two patients in Macau, who have been tested positive for the virus, are receiving treatment at the Conde S Januario Hospital. Both of them are in a stable condition. Meanwhile, authorities have cancelled some activities associated with the annual Hong Kong Well-Wishing Festival in Tai Po due to the outbreak, though residents are still welcome to visit the wishing tree.

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that's not good. hopefully hong kong government will tighten the screening for mainlanders and if the case get more serious close the gateway from any route which comes from china.

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This virus has been infecting so many people in the world.  China now technically are quarantined by other countries.  Hopefully HK would have a tighter screening.

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