Hong Kong woman hospitalised and quarantined after returning from site of pneumonia outbreak in China

Elizabeth Cheung

A woman has been quarantined in a Hong Kong hospital after displaying symptoms of upper respiratory infection, following a trip to Wuhan where a mysterious outbreak of viral pneumonia has occurred.

The Hospital Authority confirmed on Thursday that the Hongkonger, who is currently stable, was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital on New Year’s Eve.

“As the patient said she had been to Wuhan before developing symptoms, Tuen Mun Hospital immediately arranged for her to stay in an isolation ward for treatment,” a spokesman for the authority said.

Hong Kong takes emergency measures as mystery ‘pneumonia’ infects dozens in China’s Wuhan city

A hospital source said the woman had a fever but it had subsided, adding she was in Wuhan during the Christmas break.

Another source from the authority quoted the woman as saying she did not go to Huanan seafood market, where most of the unidentified viral pneumonia cases in Wuhan had originated.

Hong Kong health authorities recently stepped up border screening and put hospitals on alert following the outbreak in the central Chinese city, warning of symptoms similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome – or Sars – and bird flu.

Samples of the Hong Kong patient have been sent to the Department of Health for further testing. The case has also been reported to the department’s Centre for Health Protection for follow-up.

The department said initial testing by its Public Health Laboratory Services Branch found negative results in the woman for Sars, influenza and bird flu.

Families of Wuhan pneumonia patients say they are being kept in the dark

Speaking to the Post, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong said next-generation sequencing, a technology that can give insight into DNA details, was still being conducted on the woman’s sample to understand the cause of her illness.

“At the moment we still haven’t identified anything significant,” Yuen said, adding that the result would possibly be available on Friday or Saturday.

He urged the public not to worry.

“Her chance of having caught something serious is slim,” he said. “In general, if a person’s fever has subsided, the chance of transmitting the disease would be much smaller.”

Her chance of having caught something serious is slim

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, HKU

Macau, a city neighbouring Hong Kong, has also stepped up measures to guard against the disease. Since the start of the new year, Macau’s health authorities have been measuring the temperatures of passengers on flights from Wuhan.

Meanwhile, more than 100 district councillors signed a petition to Hong Kong’s director of health to step up efforts in preventing the spread of the disease in the city.

They called for isolated checks on passengers with fever on the high-speed rail link from Wuhan, and to disclose how many such individuals were identified, as well as for mainland authorities to reveal the areas of infections and the number of patients.

The Centre for Food Safety stated in a reply to the Post that there were no farms registered in Wuhan to supply livestock or aquatic stock to Hong Kong. There were also no such imports, including meat, from the mainland Chinese city last year.

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