Ho Pak-leung urges ban on non-HK arrivals from red-zone

Monday, March 16, 2020

A top microbiologist called on the government to immediately ban the entry of non-Hong Kong residents from countries that have been issued with a red travel alert, warning a sudden rush from these places could see a steep rise in new coronavirus cases, RTHK reports.
Dr Ho Pak-leung of from the University of Hong Kong said the coronavirus situation here over the past two weeks is worrying. Around 70 percent of the more than 40 new cases involve people who have recently travelled abroad during their incubation period.
He added that a small number of them had already developed symptoms during their flight, or even before boarding, but they still managed to enter Hong Kong undetected.
The microbiologist said he's worried that these patients may have silently infected others before they themselves were finally confirmed with the virus.
He believes more severe warnings should be given to travellers entering Hong Kong, to stop them from giving inaccurate information in their health declaration.
And with the UK, Ireland and the US to join Hong Kong's quarantine list on Thursday, Ho said he expects more than 20 flights or some 5,000 people from Europe and the United States to travel back here before the new restriction takes effect. Most of them, he believes, will be Hong Kong residents.
He said that in the worse case scenario, assuming that 1 percent of travellers coming back from Europe or the US in the next few days will be confirmed with the virus. Assuming that they will be in contact with other people here, there could be as many as 200 new cases in a weeks time, he said.
This, he feared, may not be something hospitals here can handle.
So to reduce the number of arrivals, he urged the government to refuse entry to all non-residents returning from countries issued with red alert. The authorities then could focus on handling Hongkongers returning from these countries.