Seven infected cases unrelated to Wuhan outbreaks, government raises infections response level to "serious”

Local | 4 Jan 2020 1:04 pm

The government has activated a response plan to the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan city and raised the response level from “alert” to “serious” this morning as three more people have fallen ill after visiting Wuhan, adding up to a total of 8 suspected cases reported.

It was confirmed that the first 7 cases reported were not related to the unidentified pneumonia outbreak in wet markets in Wuhan.

The response mechanism, namely the Preparedness and Response Plan for Novel Infectious Disease of Public Health Significance, was classified as level two of a three-tier scale.

Speaking on a radio program, the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the Hospital Authority has received 2 more reported cases with respiratory and fever after visiting Wuhan yesterday, increasing the total number of suspected cases to 7.

The 3 new cases have either passed by or stayed in Wuhan in the past 14 days, one of which involved a 4-year-old female patient infected with confirmed Rhinovirus, and the other 50-year-old male patient has been confirmed with H1N1 influenza.

Five of the cases have been discharged from hospital, while the remaining three were in Princess Margaret Hospital, Tseung Kwan O Hospital, and Tuen Mun Hospital.

Chan said the Hospital Authority would act on infection control procedures, such as reviewing crowd control measures and regulating visiting hours to minimize the flow of people in hospitals.

A spokesperson of the Hospital Authority announced they have taken new measures in accordance with the government's response mechanism.

Visiting time at isolation wards has been cut unless on compassionate ground, for general acute wards, visiting hours has been limited to not more than two hours per day, only two visitors would be allowed each time.

The Hospital Authority said the current stockpile for surgical masks and “N95” masks that offer better protection is adequate for three month's consumption, while they will maintain close liaison with the suppliers to ensure a sustainable supply.

Suspected cases that might be linked to viral pneumonia, similar to SARs outbreak in 2003, will be placed in isolation.

The authority also reminded frontline medical staff of public hospitals to be aware of patients' clinical information, including fever and respiratory illness and travel history to Wuhan within two weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.

Meanwhile, Ho Pak-leung, head of the University of Hong Kong's Center for Infection, said the virus is “probably spreading between people”.

The government has already implemented monitoring measures, check-up points have been set up at the airport to track arrival cases with fever symptoms, and increased use of infrared detectors at the airport.

However, Ho said the government should employ monitoring tools at all of the city's borders, including the high-speed railway station as the number of infected cases in Wuhan was worrying.

Ho also said it is possible the virus can be passed between people and the virus is likely to spread across crowded areas in Hong Kong.

The number of people infected with an unidentified virus in Wuhan city in Hubei province has risen from 27 to 44, and 11 of them are in serious condition. No death cases have been reported.

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