Hong Kong health officials reported a second case of coronavirus connected to the ongoing outbreak in Wuhan (China) on Thursday, January 23. According to media reports, two people were quarantined on Wednesday, January 22, after showing symptoms of the virus. One of the individuals reportedly visited Wuhan and returned to Hong Kong via high-speed rail. As a precaution, Hong Kong’s rail operation MTR has suspended ticket sales for high-speed trains to Wuhan. However, service between the two cities will continue. Cathay Pacific airline also announced on Thursday that passengers flying to Wuhan will be allowed to cancel or change flights free of charge through March 31. As of Thursday, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights are operating as normal. Up-to-date information can be found on the Cathay Pacific website here.
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 Hong Kong 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
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