Hong Kong officials to discuss improved Ebola security measures

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 11:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 9:24am

Health and hygiene officials will meet today to discuss how to improve precautions against the spread of infectious diseases in the wake of the city's first suspected case of the Ebola virus.

Announcing the meeting, Centre for Health Protection Controller Dr Leung Ting-hung defended the handling of the case on Sunday. The Nigerian man at the centre of the brief scare was found not to have the deadly, incurable disease.

A security guard called the ambulance after the 32-year-old, who was staying at Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, suffered vomiting and diarrhoea, early symptoms of the disease that is spreading through three West African countries.

The ambulance crew took him to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, before he was transferred to the infectious disease centre at Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation before being discharged on Monday. Critics said the crew members were not seen to be wearing proper protective gear and that no government workers were sent to disinfect the site.

Watch: Hong Kong authorities present Ebola protective gear after facing criticism

Leung said the ambulance officers had learned from the caller that the patient had chest pain and that no fever was detected.

Leung said ambulances were equipped with standard protective gear. But he said the centre would conduct a review to see if staff could handle future cases better, looking at how to make transfers to the infectious disease centre smoother, for example.

Responding to criticism that authorities took too long to confirm the Nigerian did not have Ebola, Leung said the patient was handled with reference to the notifying mechanism for Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Hospital Authority chief infection control officer Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong said it was too early to tell if the experimental drug ZMapp - used to treat two Americans with Ebola - would be introduced in Hong Kong. The authority would consider it if the World Health Organisation issued guidelines on its use.