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Mers virus

Stay alert on Mers virus, HK experts warn after returning from South Korea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 June, 2015, 1:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Medical experts who returned from a World Health Organisation mission to South Korea to study the Mers outbreak there have asked Hongkongers to stay alert despite an apparent easing of the epidemic there.

Initial findings showed that the overcrowded nature of some hospitals had contributed to the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome as it was common practice for patients to transfer to a different hospital even if they had not fully recovered.

Malik Peiris, professor of virology at the University of Hong Kong, and Daniel Hui Shu-cheong, professor of respiratory medicine at Chinese University, were part of a WHO team sent to South Korea amid the crisis.

They returned to Hong Kong yesterday and had a debriefing session with Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man.

Peiris said the South Korean authorities had been "co-operative" and there had been "full transparency".

Hui said the team was satisfied with the measures taken by the Koreans but added: "It may take another week or two to confirm if the virus is under control."

They advised the Hong Kong government to remain vigilant and continue stringent measures to contain the virus.

As of 10am on Monday, all 23 suspected Mers cases reported to the Centre for Health Protection on Saturday had tested negative. So far, no confirmed case has been reported in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, five more people have been confirmed with Mers in South Korea, bringing the total number of infections there to 150 since May 20. Two more deaths were reported on Sunday, pushing the death toll to 16.   

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Cheung