Sophia Chan Siu-chee, secretary for Food and health. Photo: RTHK

The Hong Kong government was urged by lawmakers from different parties to send some experts to directly investigate the unknown pneumonia disease in Wuhan.

Chan Hoi-yan, a pro-establishment lawmaker speaking in a Legislative Council meeting on Friday., was one of those urging the government to send some medical experts to meet the patients in Jinyintan Hospital and learn about the virus carriers in the Huanan Seafood Market.

Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, a People Power legislator, said it was ridiculous for the Hong Kong government to sit and wait for the DNA sequence from the mainland authority. Chan said the government must push the mainland government harder for more information about the Wuhan disease.

Sophia Chan Siu-chee, secretary for food and health, said Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection had asked to get the DNA sequence of the disease from China’s National Health Commission and hoped to receive it soon. Chan said the Hong Kong government had communicated with the mainland authority, which was busy containing the Wuhan disease. She did not rule out the possibility of a face-to-face meeting.

Yuen Kwok-Jung, chair of infectious disease in the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong,took a different view, saying Hong Kong could launch DNA tests within days once it received the DNA sequence from the mainland authority. Yuen said Hong Kong would do better to “wait politely” for the DNA sequence, instead of pushing the matter too hard, as the city should respect “one country” under the “one country, two systems” principle.

Yuen also said it was inappropriate to urge the public not to go to Wuhan for the moment due to a lack of evidence of community outbreak. He said he would only recommend people not to go to wet markets or eat wild animals there.

At 9pm on Tuesday, a group of mainland experts identified the DNA sequence of the unknown virus in a laboratory, while 15 samples showed positive results in nucleic acid tests, China Central Television reported on Thursday. The disease has been identified as a new kind of coronavirus, similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Xu Jianguo, a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering and the leader of the medical expert team for Wuhan disease, said his team collected body fluid and blood samples from the patients and ran genome sequencing, nucleic acid tests and virus isolation.

Xu said specialists in pathogens, epidemiology and clinical conditions would continue to focus their studies on this new coronavirus.

By analyzing the information of the patients, medical experts found that the symptoms of the unknown Wuhan disease were mainly pneumonia, as well as fever, dry cough and lacking in strength, Hu Ke, a professor at the respiratory medicine division at Hubei General Hospital, according to the Wuhan Evening News.

During the initial period after the infection, 90% of the patients had fever while 80% had dry cough, Hu said. More than 20% of the patients felt chest tightness and about 20% suffered from difficulty breathing, he said.

Chest radiographs typically showed ground-glass opacities while 80% of the patients saw declines in the number of their leukocytes, or white blood cells, Hu said.

Hu said most patients were in mild or moderate condition, cases that could be controlled by medical treatment. Hu said some patients who were admitted to hospitals had recovered and left while most of those remaining were in stable condition.

The disease has been of concern to Hong Kong people since 8pm on Sunday, when the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a statement saying, it had identified 59 people who were infected by an unknown pneumonia disease. Seven cases were serious.

The commission has not updated the figures since then.

According to the latest CCTV report, eight patients recovered and were released from hospitalization in Wuhan.

Read: Wuhan disease similar to SARS, MERS, say experts

Read: Wuhan disease spread by bats, animals: expert

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