The number of pneumonia cases in Hong Kong that are suspected to be linked to a mysterious outbreak in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, has jumped over the weekend.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health reported a total of 16 such cases since Dec. 31, with eight reported on Sunday alone. They included eight men and eight women, aged 2 to 55, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
All the new patients, who have been to Wuhan in the past 14 days, are in stable condition, the Hospital Authority (HA) said.
Of the 16 cases, five have already been discharged while the rest are being treated under isolation in various public hospitals.
Ten of them have tested positive for respiratory illnesses, mostly influenza.
On Sunday, a 20-year-old mainland student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) returned to her dormitory room from Wuhan on Dec. 29.
It is understood that she went to Shenzhen to seek treatment after the Union Hospital in Sha Tin refused to treat her on Sunday morning. Upon her return to Hong Kong in the evening, she was sent to the Prince of Wales Hospital at 8 p.m.
The student has tested negative for pneumonia, sources said.
For its part, CUHK said the student’s dorm room, along with the corridors on the fifth floor where it is located, has been sanitized.
The university said its health service has also issued guidelines on the mystery illness from Wuhan. It would also ask students from Wuhan to fill in a health declaration and recommend that they wear face masks while on campus.
Many of the students entering and leaving the dormitory building were seen wearing face masks, RTHK reported.
Classes resumed at the university’s Shatin campus on Monday after a break of almost two months with new security barricades in place.
On Saturday, a spokesman for HA announced the activation of the Serious Response Level in public hospitals with immediate effect and raised the response level from “Alert” to “Serious” following an ad hoc meeting of the HA Central Committee on Infectious Disease and Emergency Responses on the latest situation of cluster of cases of viral pneumonia with unknown cause in Wuhan in the morning.
Any suspected case will be isolated in negative pressure isolation room for treatment and urgent laboratory investigation will be arranged immediately, the spokesman said.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee urged passengers entering Hong Kong to seek medical treatment if they do not feel well, reiterating that there are monitoring measures at ports and the airport.
The CHP has set up more instruments in different locations to enhance monitoring, Chan added.
David Hui Shu-cheong, a CUHK Stanley Ho professor of respiratory medicine, suggested in a TV program on Sunday that authorities monitor all travelers taking the high-speed train from or via Wuhan to Hong Kong.
The government should consider conducting checks on board or setting up monitoring stations on the platforms of the terminal, Hui added.
Meanwhile, it was reported that many pharmacies in Hong Kong have run out of face mask supply because of a sharp rise in demand.
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