Seven more Hong Kong people were confirmed on Monday to have been infected with the novel coronavirus, bringing the tally to 81.
New People's Party Chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (second right), one of the members of a community alliance formed to fight the novel coronavirus, delivers face masks to the elderly at Siu Sai Wan Estate on Sunday morning. (Photo: China Daily)
Seven latest patients included three female and one male passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were among near 200 others flown back to the SAR from Japan on three chartered flights last week, and two residents who had been to a temple in a multistory residential building in North Point.
Two passengers who had tested negative to the deadly disease before being flown back to Hong Kong were confirmed to have contracted the virus after moving into the newly built Chun Yeung public housing estate in Fo Tan for a 14-day quarantine, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said at the government's daily briefing on the epidemic on Monday.
Among the more than 200 cruise ship passengers under quarantine at Chun Yeung Estate, three have been confirmed to be infected, while another two have initially tested positive for the virus.
The 76th and 77th patients had visited the Fook Wai Ching She — a small Buddhist temple on the upper floor of a residential building on Shu Kuk Street. Four other infected patients had also been to the temple.
Chuang said the government has so far contacted more than 100 people who had also visited the temple and found seven of them had developed symptoms and were hospitalized. Another 16 have been quarantined and a total of 107 are required to take a medical examination.
The 75th confirmed patient is a 35-year-old businessman living in Yuen Long who had visited Shenzhen early this month.
Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority said on Monday all front-line medical workers who have been on duty since Jan 25, when the government declared an emergency to deal with the outbreak, will be entitled to a daily subsidy of HK$500 ($64), or 20 percent of the basic salary (subject to the higher one). The measure is expected to benefit 25,000 medical employees.
The epidemic, which broke out in Wuhan, Hubei province, in late December, has so far infected more than 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 on the Chinese mainland.
The disease has now spread to about 30 countries and regions, including South Korea, which had reported at least 833 confirmed cases as of Monday — the second-highest number of people infected outside the Chinese mainland, following Japan.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said on Monday all non-Hong Kong residents arriving in the SAR from South Korea from 6 am on Tuesday will be barred from entering the city.
The SAR government also issued a "red travel alert" for South Korea, warning local residents against visiting the country unless necessary.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee also said that as of Tuesday, Hong Kong residents returning from visits to Daegu and Gyeongsang-bukdo — the two South Korean cities hardest hit by the epidemic — will be sent to quarantine centers on arrival.
Those who haven't been to the two places but have been to South Korea will be subject to medical observation and advised to stay at home for two weeks and wear masks when going out.
Macao also said on Monday that all travelers who have been to South Korea in the past 14 days will be subject to a medical examination on entry.