Date
28 July 2017
Yuen Kwok-yung says hospital curtains (inset) are often touched by patients and health workers and are not washed for one to two months. Photo: HKEJ, curtainshop.com.hk
Yuen Kwok-yung says hospital curtains (inset) are often touched by patients and health workers and are not washed for one to two months. Photo: HKEJ, curtainshop.com.hk

Ward curtains could help spread MERS, warns health expert

Hospital curtains are likely to spread any MERS infection, according to a health expert who is warning Hong Kong not to let its guard down.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiology expert in the University of Hong Kong, says Hong Kong public hospitals have yet to take appropriate infection control measures.

He is warning against complacency from knowing that Hong Kong has yet to report a single MERS infection.

Yuen told Commercial Radio on Sunday that local hospitals are as overcrowded as those in MERS-stricken South Korea.

As a result, Hong Kong could be hit with a massive outbreak from a single patient.

Ward curtains help spread viruses because these are often touched by patients and health workers and are not washed for one or two months, Apple Daily quoted Yuen as saying.

Also, Hong Kong hospital beds are less than one meter apart and are surrounded by curtains, he said.

On Sunday, South Korean authorities confirmed three more MERS cases, bringing the total to 169. The death toll has risen to 25.

The new cases included a doctor and a radiologist.

MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) is a deadly flu-like virus first reported in 2012 and mostly linked to Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Tsang Ngai-chong, chief infection control officer of Hospital Authority, said ward curtains will be changed more frequently.

He said improvements in public hospitals are always needed.

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TL/JP/RA

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