Govt widens net for possible Wuhan virus infections - RTHK
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Govt widens net for possible Wuhan virus infections

2020-01-16 HKT 20:17
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  • Patients with respiratory symptoms now have to be reported to health authorities even if they hadn't been to Wuhan, or the seafood market there thought to be the epicentre of the outbreak. File photo: AFP
    Patients with respiratory symptoms now have to be reported to health authorities even if they hadn't been to Wuhan, or the seafood market there thought to be the epicentre of the outbreak. File photo: AFP
Hong Kong health authorities on Thursday widened the criteria for private doctors to report patients who may have been infected with a newly-identified virus from Wuhan, after Japan confirmed that a man was infected with the novel coronavirus following a trip to the central mainland city.

Japan's health ministry said the patient, in his thirties, did not go to a seafood market there thought to be the epicentre of the outbreak.

But the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong said according to information from their Japanese counterparts, he had “contact with a pneumonia patient while he was in Wuhan.”

The patient was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan, with a persistent fever.

Tests on the patient, who was released from hospital on Wednesday, confirmed he was infected with the new virus.

The CHP said in light of the new information, doctors will be asked notify health authorities of any patients who have fever and respiratory symptoms if they have been to any mainland hospital, or had close contact with anyone confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus

Previously, they only had to refer sick people who had been to Wuhan.

“Travellers who fulfilled the above reporting criteria will be immediately referred to public hospitals for isolation, treatment and follow-up”, a CHP spokesman said in a statement.

He added that “the CHP will issue letters to doctors and private hospitals to inform them of the revised reporting criteria. The CHP will continue to maintain its liaisons with the World Health Organization, the National Health Commission and relevant overseas health authorities, and closely monitor the situation for risk assessment. The reporting criteria will be adjusted in a timely manner according to the prevailing situation."

It is not yet clear whether the new virus can be transmitted between humans, but on Wednesday, mainland authorities said it was possible it had spread inside a family.

The infected Japanese man appears to be only the second time the novel coronavirus has been detected outside China, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed a case in Thailand.

She has also said she had not visited the Wuhan seafood market. And WHO doctor Maria Van Kerkhove on Tuesday said she "wouldn't be surprised if there was some limited human-to-human transmission, especially among families who have close contact with one another".

The outbreak has killed one person so far, with 41 patients reported in Wuhan. (RTHK, AFP)
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Last updated: 2020-01-16 HKT 21:36