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03 Mar 2020 | 04:25 AM UTC

Hong Kong: Authorities introduce additional measures to contain COVID-19 spread March 1 /update 12

Authorities announce that travelers from mainland China, Iran, the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, or Veneto regions (Italy) will be placed under quarantine upon arrival to contain spread of COVID-19 effective March 1; follow authority directives

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Event

As of Sunday, March 1, authorities in Hong Kong announced that all travelers (including Hong Kong residents) who have been to the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, or Veneto regions in Italy, as well as those who have visited Iran in the past 14 days prior to their arrival in Hong Kong will be placed under quarantine. This measure is in addition to that already in place for travelers from mainland China.

On Tuesday, February 25, authorities announced that non-resident arrivals from South Korea will be prohibited entry into the territory. In addition, Hong Kong residents who had been in South Korea up to 14 days before returning to Hong Kong would have to undergo 14 days of medical surveillance. Additionally, non-residents who have been in South Korea 14 days prior to their arrival in Hong Kong will be prohibited entry.

Authorities have also announced that schools will remain closed until Monday, April 20, at the earliest.

As of Tuesday, March 3, Hong Kong has reported 100 cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected in the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.