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Temperature checks enough, insists HK govt

2020-01-20 HKT 11:57
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  • Experts want the government to start implementing mandatory health declarations for mainland visitors. File photo: RTHK
    Experts want the government to start implementing mandatory health declarations for mainland visitors. File photo: RTHK
Health officials in Hong Kong on Monday reiterated their stance that current surveillance measures implemented at the airport and other border points will be effective in protecting the city against a new virus that has emerged in the mainland city of Wuhan.

This is despite calls from some experts for visitors to be given mandatory health declaration forms to sign and for isolation areas to be set up at the airport and express railway station.

Three US airports that have flights from Wuhan have implemented steps to distribute health forms on planes serving these routes.

The under secretary for health, Chui Tak-yi, said temperature checks will be adequate for screening travellers. He said information collected from visitors could sometimes be inaccurate.

“The Department of Health considers that checking passengers’ temperature at border points is an objective way to see if they have fever,” he said.

When asked about health declaration forms last week, Health Secretary Sophia Chan had also said that temperature checks are being conducted at airport and the express rail station.

The number of people confirmed to have contracted the virus on the mainland has exceeded 200, with new cases emerging in Beijing and Shenzhen.

With the Lunar New Year holidays starting this weekend, up to a million people are expected to travel to and from Hong Kong. Experts say more steps should be implemented by the SAR authorities ahead of this.

A respiratory medicine and public health expert at the Hong Kong Medical Association, Dr Leung Chiu-chiu, told RTHK that authorities need to reassess the situation.

He said the increase in the number of cases means that Hong Kong officials have to take measures to control the spread of the virus, not only from the mainland, but also other places of the world.