The Hong Kong government has been advised by microbiologists to take all possible measures to avoid community outbreaks of the Wuhan disease in shopping malls and residential areas.
Some infections had already occurred in Hong Kong, which indicated that local transmission had begun, Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said in a radio program on Thursday.
Yuen said he feared that large-scale community outbreaks would happen. He said the government had to cut the transmission chain by not letting infected people enter Hong Kong and taking all available measures to lower the risk of human-to-human transmission in the city.
Yuen urged people in Hong Kong to jointly maintain good hygiene – by wearing masks and sterilizing their homes. He said people without masks were advised to keep a distance of six floor tiles, or 3.6 meters from one another.
Ho Pak-leung, president of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection, said the coming two weeks would be critical in containing the epidemic. He said the government had to take measures with foresight to monitor hygiene in shopping malls and residential buildings.
As of Thursday, some 22 infections had been reported in Hong Kong. That included 11 “imported” cases, two people infected by family members who imported the virus, three suspected local infections and six confirmed local infections.
Individuals who had close contact with the infected people, including some medical staff and at least four foreign domestic workers, have been sent to quarantine in holiday camps.
On Tuesday, a 64-year-old Hong Kong woman, who was living in Celestial Heights in Ho Man Tin and operating a clothes store named Fresh Up in Prudential Centre in Jordan, was confirmed as infected. She developed coughing on January 23 and went to see a doctor at Champion Building in Jordan. She had fever on January 30 and went to see another clinic. She was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital last Saturday and then sent to Princess Margaret Hospital on Sunday. She is now in a critical condition.
The woman’s son, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and a domestic worker all had to be put in quarantine.
This woman could have infected a 25-year-old local man, who was living in an old building at 183 Ma Tau Wai Road, which is 200 meters away – a five-minute walk from Celestial Heights. The man is in a stable condition.
And on Wednesday, a 56-year-old Hong Kong man, who resided in Block 1, Villa Esplanada in Tsing Yi, was identified as infected with the Wuhan disease.
The man said he worked in Shenzhen and was in that city last on January 21. He then visited Tokyo between January 28 and February 1. On January 30, he developed a fever, with a sore throat and a cough with sputum. He consulted a private doctor last Sunday and then went to Princess Margaret Hospital on Tuesday. He is in a stable condition.
His wife presented symptoms of illness and was sent to the same hospital for treatment. She was confirmed as infected on Thursday. The man’s parents and domestic helper were then required to go into quarantine.
On Tuesday, a 39-year-old local man who visited Wuhan two weeks ago died in hospital. He was the first casualty of the Wuhan virus in Hong Kong.
The man’s 72-year-old mother was found to be infected last Saturday. His wife, daughter, son and domestic worker, who were living with him in an apartment in block 1, phase 11, at Whampoa Garden, were sent to quarantine.
On January 24, a Wuhan couple, who came to Hong Kong to visit their daughter at Lake Silver in Ma On Shan, were found to be infected. Their daughter developed a fever and was sent to the Prince of Wales Hospital for isolation, while her Filipino domestic worker was sent to the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village for quarantine.
The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said in a statement on its Facebook page that “no Filipinos are allowed to travel back to China, Macau and Hong Kong at this time.” It also said: “Filipinos are allowed to travel back to the Philippines, subject to a 14-day quarantine.”