The Hong Kong stock market plunged about 500 points within an hour in the afternoon on Wednesday after a woman suspected of carrying the deadly Sars-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus was admitted to a hospital. The Hang Seng Index started to fall about 2pm, reversing earlier gains before recovering from the day's lows to close at 26,687.64, down 301.88 points or 1.12 per cent. The media reported a woman had been taken to hospital for tests after developing a fever following a trip to South Korea, where Mers has killed nine people so far. "The 'new Sars' was a new trigger for investors to take profit. At least in the next couple of days, capital that planned to enter Hong Kong will hold off until the situation is clear," said Steven Sheung, the head of investment strategy at investment and wealth management service provider SHK Private. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.15 per cent to 5,106.04 points as regulators approved a new batch of initial public offerings that is expected to soak up billions of yuan from the market. A bounce in technology stocks helped lift the Shenzhen Composite Index by 2.03 per cent to 3.055.58 points. Investors in Hong Kong and mainland Chinese markets were barely affected by MSCI's decision not to include Chinese shares in its global indices. The US index provider said on Wednesday morning it would put on hold plans to add Chinese stocks to one of its key benchmark indices. But even as it did not approve an immediate inclusion, it left its options open for a review later. "The announcement that MSCI would not include China A shares into the MSCI EM (emerging market) index … should not have come as a surprise," said Jefferies strategist Sean Darby. "There seem to be three temporary stumbling blocks. "Firstly, the Shenzhen connect has not yet been opened. "Secondly, the northbound quota would probably be needed to be expanded or removed altogether. "Thirdly, there are concerns over the lack of clarity on beneficial ownership and enforcement of shareholder rights." Many of the hurdles that blocked the entry of Chinese shares into the index seemed temporary and were being cleared by Chinese regulators, Darby said. The Shanghai market was likely to trade in the 5,000 to 5,100 points range for now, said Louis Wong, a broker at Phillip Capital, as mainland investors set money aside for 24 initial public offerings approved by the regulators on Tuesday. Among the stocks that fell in China on Wednesday, those from the financial sector were hardest hit. The sector had been bid up in anticipation of an MSCI inclusion that was expected to attract about US$400 billion.