On Wednesday, January 22, Hong Kong's government announced that the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the administrative region. The patient in question traveled to Hong Kong by high-speed rail from mainland China to Hong Kong West Kowloon Station on Tuesday, January 21, after visiting Wuhan (Hubei province), and has since been taken to the hospital. The train station and train concerned have been disinfected.
Temperature screenings have been implemented at border checkpoints since Friday, January 3, for passengers arriving from Wuhan; on Wednesday, Hong Kong's Health Secretary announced the creation of quarantine centers for those exposed to the virus.
Further spread of the disease is possible over the near term, particularly during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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.
As of January 22, there are more than 480 confirmed cases worldwide with nine related deaths, and individual cases of the virus have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the US. Suspected cases have been reported in Singapore and Australia. Temperature screening measures are being implemented at airports throughout Asia, Australia, and the US.
Individuals in China and Hong Kong, particularly those in Wuhan province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at airports and train stations. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating undercooked animal products; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing pneumonia symptoms are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing pneumonia symptoms are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid the spread of the disease