Pedestrians don surgical masks to guard themselves against the Wuhan pneumonia in Hong Kong, Jan 8, 2020. (File photo: China Daily)
HONG KONG, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Acting Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Matthew Cheung said on Tuesday that the SAR government is on high alert for an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus.
Cheung told the media ahead of the Executive Council meeting that Hong Kong has not found any confirmed cases of new coronavirus pneumonia so far, but the SAR government is already in full swing to control the disease.
The SAR government launched on Jan. 4 the Preparedness and Response Plan for Novel Infectious Disease of Public Health Significance and activated the serious response level for novel infectious disease, Cheung said.
A string of measures have been taken including strengthening the contingency measures in public hospitals, enhancing the monitoring of suspected cases, and imposing a health declaration form system on inbound travelers by air from central Chinese city of Wuhan, he said, adding that these measures have assumed the risk of human-to-human transmission of the virus and are on high alert.
Chung Kin-lai, the Hospital Authority's quality and safety director, told a press conference held by the SAR government on Tuesday that public hospitals in Hong Kong have reported 117 suspected cases so far with no confirmed cases.
The authority has decided to step up the detection of the new coronavirus in public hospitals by conducting tests on pneumonia patients who had been to Wuhan within 14 days.
Yuen Kwok-yung, professor from the department of microbiology of the University of Hong Kong, who had been to Wuhan to learn about the epidemic, said at the press conference that the epidemic may now enter the third wave of transmission, i.e. transmission begins in homes and hospitals.
"All cases outside Wuhan were related to cases found in Wuhan. Under this situation, it's not uncontrollable," he said.
Yuen stressed that the control measures in Hong Kong are more stringent than other places. However, if there is an adaptive genetic change in the virus, transmission may accelerate.
Coupled with the Spring Festival travel rush, the flow of people across the country is frequent, therefore, it is reasonable for Hong Kong to implement very strict anti-epidemic measures at this stage, he added.