Novel coronavirus

Flights to take more health precautions after second Sars scare

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 5:18am

More health measures will be taken on flights in and out of the city, the health minister said yesterday, as Hongkongers breathed a sigh of relief after a cabin crew member tested negative for novel coronavirus.

The 31-year-old flight attendant, who had been in Saudi Arabia from March 4 to 7, developed symptoms much like those of the severe respiratory disease, including cough, fever and headache, shortly after his return.

He was isolated and treated in Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Saturday night, and was later diagnosed with seasonal influenza A. His wife, who had a cough and sore throat, also tested negative for the new Sars virus.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said that as this was the second suspected Sars case involving aviation staff, the Hospital Authority would work with the airlines to improve their health warnings.

"We are considering stepping up the measures, including incorporating a warning, particularly for inbound flights from affected areas, to alert air crew as well as passengers that if they have fever or upper respiratory tract symptoms, they should report it to crew members or port health staff," he said.

Ko also reminded the public not to spread false messages about the virus, to improve hygiene and to consult doctors immediately if they developed any Sars-like symptoms.

He gave his reassurance that the government would be transparent in revealing any cases. There have been 14 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus worldwide, with eight deaths.

Ko said that although the number of cases was still not high, there had been evidence of human transmission, and the death rate was up to 50 per cent.