A daily chronicle of ongoing events pertaining to infectious diseases
Friday, March 29, 2013
Hong Kong: #Coronavirus - Deaths bring chill as SARS marked
Jeraldine Phneah Thursday, March 28, 2013
The public will be informed at once should a
new SARS-like virus killing patients overseas come to our shores - even
if a case is only suspected.The undertaking yesterday by the
Department of Health followed word from the World Health Organization
that another two people had succumbed to the virus, bringing the death
toll among 17 people infected since it was unearthed as novel
coronavirus in the middle of last year to an alarming 11.
came as local authorities sought to dispel any potential criticism that
they might be complacent by testing the bureaucracy for
battle-readiness for any outbreak involving the quiet killer.
into the simulation exercise - based on a scenario where Hong Kong
faces having to cope with the arrival of a first case of novel
coronavirus from overseas - were 36 key officials from three bureaus and
Codenamed Exercise Ruby, the drill was
organized by the Food and Health Bureau, the Centre for Health
Protection and other government departments.
The exercise assessed the risk level by considering key factors such as:
Areas where the virus is likely to be transmitted; Geographical spread; Clinical severity; Pre-existing immunity; Availability of effective preventive measures; and Recommendations by international authorities. Once
a case has been confirmed, key officials will convene a Serious
Response Level steering committee meeting, chaired by the Secretary for
Food and Health Ko Wing-man.
Ko is a health veteran who was in the
thick of the battles Hong Kong waged when SARS laid waste to public
confidence and the health system 10 years ago.
Also tested was the command structure as well as the mechanism to activate response levels. The
gravity of the threat was brought home by the deaths of a 73-year-old
man from the United Arab Emirates in Munich on Tuesday and of a UK
resident with a history of travel to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The new virus is singularly different from its SARS cousin in that it causes rapid kidney failure.
The WHO does not yet know how it is transmitted or how widespread it is.
Centre for Health Protection will continue to work closely with the WHO
and other overseas health authorities to monitor the latest development
of this novel infectious disease," a department spokesman said.
the Centre for Health Protection will continue its surveillance of
hospitals, doctors and at the Hong Kong International Airport for any
It is advising travelers returning from affected
countries who have respiratory symptoms to wear face masks, seek
medical attention and inform doctors of their travel history.
the 10th anniversary of the SARS outbreak yesterday were Chief
Executive Leung Chun-ying and health department officials.
They visited Gallant Garden to pay tribute to health- care workers who died in the front lines.
A minute's silence was also observed in honor of the 299 locals who died in 2003. Worldwide, a total of 775 succumbed to SARS.