Silent virus carriers still a threat, warn experts - RTHK
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Silent virus carriers still a threat, warn experts

2020-04-17 HKT 15:11
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  • Experts like Dr Leung Chi-chiu from the Hong Kong Medical Association have urged the government to do more to detect asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19. File photo: RTHK.
    Experts like Dr Leung Chi-chiu from the Hong Kong Medical Association have urged the government to do more to detect asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19. File photo: RTHK.
Experts have urged the government to do more to find silent carriers of the new coronavirus, warning their presence could lead to more outbreaks and officials are "turning a blind eye" towards this problem.

Speaking in a RTHK programme on Friday morning, Dr Leung Chi-chiu said that though a second wave of infections was almost under control, it was necessary to review quarantine arrangements given a number of Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic.

Leung, who is the chairman of the advisory committee on communicable diseases at the Hong Kong Medical Association, said that there was a chance for another community outbreak with asymptomatic carriers.

For instance, even if a person returning to Hong Kong may not feel ill and test negative for the virus at the airport, there was still a chance that those people could be silent carriers, said Leung. They could fall ill later during the incubation period and infect their family members, he warned.

The expert said that most of the SAR's newly-confirmed cases were imported from elsewhere, and suggested all arrivals into Hong Kong should be quarantined immediately at either a quarantine centre and hotel, and tested at the end of the 14-day incubation period.

Leung said his that this solution could work given that the number of people returning to Hong Kong has come down, and there were now more spaces at the city's quarantine centres.

He predicted that there might be some more new Covid-19 cases in the next few days given that a lot of people went out during the four-day Easter holiday, but that it was unlikely to be a large outbreak as long as people stuck to social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong University microbiologist Ho Pak-leung accused the government of "turning a blind eye" to asymptomatic infections.

Ho told Commercial Radio that of all the confirmed cases from March, about a quarter to a third of the confirmed cases were asymptomatic, and criticised the authorities for doing little to publicise this fact more effectively.

He said that the situation is still not safe as the Covid-19 outbreak is not yet under control. Only if there are no new cases for 28 consecutive days, should we consider things are under control, said Ho.

He also said he supported extending social distancing measures for a bit longer, and for the government to step up publicity on asymptomatic carriers.