Authorities confirm more local transmission cases of coronavirus

February 05, 2020 11:11
A cleaner conducts disinfection work in Prudential Centre, Jordan, after a store owner was confirmed to be infected with Wuhan-linked coronavirus. Photo: HKEJ

The risk of Hong Kong witnessing a pneumonia outbreak associated with the novel coronavirus that originated in China has risen as more local human-to-human transmissions have been confirmed in the city.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health reported on Tuesday night that a 25-year-old man who lives in a building along Ma Tau Wai Road in Kowloon City tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed infection cases in Hong Kong to 18.

The patient, who is in Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment, has not travelled outside Hong Kong over the past 14 days, according to the CHP.

Earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP's Communicable Disease Branch, told a media briefing that the 16th and the 17th confirmed patients were also locally infected.

The 16th case involved a 64-old woman who runs a boutique in Jordan. Although she had not left Hong Kong before she sought medical help for coughing on Jan 13, her son had travelled to Japan and Taiwan.

The 17th patient is a 60-year-old retired man living in Kwun Tong and he has no recent travel history, either.

Chuang noted that the 12th and the 14th confirmed cases, involving a 75-year-old man and an 80-year old man living in Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung respectively, were also suspected to be local infections.

Commenting on the four cases, Chuang said they suggested local community transmission of the pneumonia-causing virus may be occurring, adding that it will be certain that the risk of such transmission does exist if more similar cases are reported.

The CHP warned that it could not rule out large-scale transmission of the virus in the city, RTHK reported.

Chuang reminded that the virus could be spread by people who are not showing any signs of the illness, calling the next 14 days the critical period.

The senior health official noted that some studies have suggested that the new coronavirus can survive in the environment for several days.

She urged the public to wash hands more often, sanitize hands after touching door handles or elevator buttons and try to keep a 2-meter distance from others.

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TL/BN/RC