The Chief Manager of the Hospital Authority (HA) Lau Ka-hin on Saturday cautioned that public hospitals could be put under pressure if Hong Kong recorded more imported malaria cases, adding that time was key in treating the mosquito-borne disease.
Thirty people who flew in from west Africa were recently found to have the disease. Two of them have since died.
Speaking on a TV programme, Lau said malaria patients in intensive care had been infected for some time, carried a high number of parasites, and were at risk of organ failure.
He said existing medication was effective as long as the disease was treated at an early stage.
Lau urged people returning from Africa, or other malaria-prone locations, to seek medical help immediately should they feel unwell, saying they should inform doctors of their travel history.
In the event of the SAR recording more imported malaria cases in future, the chief manager said the HA would adjust services when necessary, such as moving recovered Covid-19 patients to tier-two isolation beds.
Lau also assured the public that there were still enough beds for Covid patients, and that officials were prepared to reopen the treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo.