Wuhan hospitals at highest alert level amid pneumonia woes

January 15, 2020 11:47
World Health Organization (WHO) has said that hospitals worldwide need to be on the alert over possible 'super-spreading' of the mystery virus that surfaced in China’s Wuhan. Photos: Reuters, RTHK

All hospitals in China's central city of Wuhan, where a pneumonia outbreak is yet to be contained, have raised their alert to the highest level, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing a local source.

The nerve-wracking situation in the capital of Hubei province came after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that there may have been a limited human-to-human transmission of the pneumonia, whose source was believed to be a new type of coronavirus, and therefore a wider outbreak is possible.

However, the warning was contradictory to a statement issued on Sunday by WHO itself, which had said the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan has not spread.

According to the HKEJ source, surgical N95 masks have been issued to all frontline healthcare workers in Wuhan, and that people who work at emergency departments of some hospitals even wear full body protective clothing to prevent themselves from contracting the possibly contagious pneumonia from patients with fever.

Jiang Chaoliang, Communist Party Secretary of Hubei province, is said to have instructed all of the cities in the province to step up efforts on public health and epidemic prevention as citizens prepare for Lunar New Year holidays.

Data unveiled on Tuesday by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission showed there was no newly added case in the city on the day.

As of Monday, a total of 41 viral pneumonia cases had been reported. Of the patients, seven have been discharged, six remained serious and one had died.

As for a case reported by the health authority of Thailand, involving involved a patient from Wuhan who arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on January 8 and was detected to be having high fever, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health in Hong Kong said in a statement on Tuesday that the patient had been taken to a medical institute for isolation and management.

The CHP noted that while laboratory tests returned a positive result for the novel coronavirus on January 12, the patient has recovered and there have not been additional cases in Thailand.

In an interview aired by CCTV, Feng Zijian, an expert from China's National Health Commission, tried to ease public concerns over the viral pneumonia, saying there have been no reports of healthcare workers being infected.

But Dr Gauden Galea, the WHO Representative in China, told the state broadcaster that the Chinese authorities' judgment that "there is no evidence of definite human-to-human transmission" is not a final conclusion and that more research is necessary.

Meanwhile, the CHP reported three more Wuhan-linked cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 71 in Hong Kong since Dec. 31 last year when the first one was reported.

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