Hong Kong’s Fire Service Department has ordered 1,000 sets of waterproof full-body protective gear for its workers, with 250 sets going to the frontline staff, prompting calls from the city’s medical fraternity to seek similar gear for local health workers amid the global Ebola scare.
Fire service authorities said they will provide new gear comprising six protective items to their staff. The kit includes a protective gown, an N95 mask, a pair of goggles and a face mask for frontline workers. The new gear, which is used in some Western countries, will ensure that no body parts are exposed during any emergency.
Following the news, medical workers in the city are also seeking enhanced protective attire and equipment, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
There are complaints that the existing safety gear for people working in the accident and emergency (A&E) departments of local hospitals is inadequate in light of the risks posed by potential Ebola patients.
The Hospital Authority has given new protective gear for medical staff that needs to take care of any Ebola patient. The gear includes face mask, protective hats and gowns and shoe covers. However, it will still leave the neck exposed and there are also no goggles to protect the eyes, medical workers were quoted as saying.
Some frontline staff believe the gown given to A&E department workers is far less protective than what is required. It will provide more confidence for staff if hospitals provide full-set gowns, they say.
A doctor also said the gowns used at local hospitals are not quite the same used by some overseas medical workers who deal with Ebola patients. Hospital authorities should consider ordering the sets used by the Fire Service Department, he said.
Concerns have mounted in Hong Kong in recent days even as a suspected Nigerian patient tested negative for Ebola over the weekend.
The Nigerian man is said to have stayed at ChungKing Mansions in Kowloon. Following the scare, a Nepalese guesthouse owner in the building was quoted as saying that he now screens the passports of guests carefully to watch out for any visitors from West Africa.
A suitcase seller, identified by his surname Mak, who operates at ChungKing Mansions said he now avoids shaking hands with African customers. His sales are said to have fallen to one or two suitcases each day, compared to the 20 to 30 units that he sold per day earlier.
Meanwhile, some curry houses at the building, which has many cheap guest houses and eateries, are also said to have seen their sales slide in recent days.
Yau Tsim Mong District councilor Chan Wai-keung said some guesthouses at ChungKing Mansions are turning down African visitors, forcing the visitors to seek lodgings elsewhere in Tsim Sha Tsui or Jordan, or move in with other Africans living in the city.
The World Health Organization has said that 1,013 people have died so far from the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea accounting for most of the deaths.
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