The Department of Health confirmed to Young Post by phone that the two suspected coronovirus cases have been confirmed.
Two highly suspicious coronavirus cases in the city will be confirmed by the government by Thursday, depending on the results of the genome sequencing of coronavirus, the spokespersons from the Department of Health and Hospital Authority revealed in a press conference on Thursday morning.
This came after authorities reported the cases yesterday. The two patients, now under quarantine, include a 39-year-old mainland Chinese man from Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak - and a 56-year-old Hongkong male who visited Wuhan. Both of their initial test results - taken at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital respectively - indicated positive.
The local citizen was found to have stayed at Alva Hotel by Royal in Sha Tin on Jan 20, and staff from Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) have been sent to track down the housekeeper responsible for cleaning the room, and to ensure thorough disinfection of the room and the hotel’s common area.
Three people in close contact with the patients, including two medical staff and the wife of the local resident who also travelled to Wuhan, have been isolated, and would be sent to a quarantine camp at Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung later today.
A stricter reporting criteria would be implemented from Thursday onwards to cover not only people with both fever and respiratory symptoms or pneumonia, but also people with either fever or respiratory symptoms, announced Wong Ka Hing, Controller of CHP. “Mails will be sent out [on Thursday] to inform doctors of the changes.” Wong said.
The government is currently assessing whether commuters of Hong Kong Express Rail Link, like the passengers flying directly from Wuhan, should be required to fill in health declaration forms upon arrival in addition to temperature screening, Wong added.
While the implementation would help “gather health information” and “facilitate contact tracing [when] necessary," Wong said authorities had to first overcome the challenges in logistics, operations, and manpower, given the massive number of travellers.
Contact tracing applies to people who have more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with the suspected infected, train or flight commuters sitting two rows in front of or behind of a patient.
According to the latest report, half of the 500 quarantine hospital beds and 60 per cent of the 290 ward - where these beds are located - have already been occupied, said Chung Kin-lai, Director of Hospital Authority’s Quality and Safety Division.
“The situation is tense and worrying. It must be monitored closely, and we must be prepared to ensure we could accommodate more patients in the near future… [The HA] is planning to reduce non-emergency services two weeks following Lunar New Year,” he added. “Certain clinics would also be made available [for people with suspected Wuhan pneumonia] within 48 hours if necessary.”
The Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Shau Kei Wan will be opened as a quarantine camp if necessary as well.
Chief Infection Control Officer Raymond Lai Wai-man reassured citizens that surgical masks, rather than particulate filtering respirators like N95 masks, are sufficient to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases spread through mucus. Meanwhile, Chung reminded citizens to constantly wash their hands or apply sanitizer to avoid the entrance of coronavirus through hand-to-eye contact.