Wuhan virus: Hong Kong health officials conduct checks on all passengers arriving in West Kowloon on Wuhan trains

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South China Morning Post

Carrie Lam says intervention is part of government’s rapid response to mystery outbreak

South China Morning Post |
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Chief Executive Carrie Lam says health officials have been carrying out health tests on passengers arriving in Hong Kong on services from Wuhan.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced on Tuesday that Hong Kong health officials would step up measures against a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in central China by checking the body temperature of all passengers arriving in the city from Wuhan trains.

Lam revealed the new checks came into force in the city on Monday night, soon after the Food and Health Bureau said it expected to list the unidentified virus as a notifiable disease by the end of the week.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday ahead of a weekly meeting with her top advisers, Lam said the government had intervened on several occasions since the outbreak was identified on December 31.

“In response to concerns in the community, I demanded that departments strengthened measures on all borders, especially at the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus,” she said.

59 people in Wuhan found with mystery pneumonia strain

She said health officials had checked the body temperatures of all passengers on two trains arriving into Hong Kong from 7pm to 9pm Monday from Wuhan, which is the source of the outbreak.

Authorities in the city, which is in Hubei province and has a population of about 11 million, have identified 59 cases. No fatalities have been recorded.

Officials in Hong Kong took aside all passengers on Wuhan services as they arrived in West Kowloon and carried out the medical checks using infrared mobile devices, Lam added.

To prevent the spread of the unknown infectious disease, Lam said the government would declare it as a statutory notifiable infectious disease under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance.

The disease will be named as “severe respiratory disease associated with a novel infectious agent” under the ordinance.
 
It will empower frontline medical practitioners to order patients to be placed under quarantine. Medical practitioners who suspect a patient has the disease must also notify the government.
 
Despite the fact that no pneumonia cases related to Wuhan have been found in Hong Kong so far, Lam said the government would respond rapidly to the unknown disease while upholding stringent standards and openness.
 
 
From December 31 to Monday, a total of 21 reported suspicious cases have emerged in Hong Kong. Seven people have been discharged from hospital and the rest are in stable condition.
 
In Wuhan, there have been 59 cases but none have been confirmed elsewhere on the mainland.
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