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Local dengue case reported; officials warn an outbreak could derail Covid-19 work

15 April 2020

By The SUN

The first local case of dengue has prompted a warning for people to stay away from mosquitoes 

Hong Kong health officials have reported the first local case of dengue fever today, Apr 15, and warn ongoing efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 could be derailed if attention is diverted to treating patients with another disease.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection identified the patient as an 84-year-old man who went to a clinic in Yuen Long on Apr 3 after running a fever. He was tested for Covid-19 on Apr 6 but the result was negative.

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On Apr 7 he went to Pok Oi Hospital when the fever did not subside. He was then transferred to Tuen Mun Hospital where his blood sample showed he had dengue, a mosquito-borne disease.

Investigations showed the man did not travel recently, and has been living with his wife in Sung Shan Village in Yuen Long, where he did farm work in a neighbor’s backyard garden.

Chuang said they fear an outbreak because the weather has remained cool for this time of the year, making the spread of dengue more likely to happen.
She said this should not happen “because if we have an outbreak, and on top of that we have Covid, it will be a headache for us.”

This is the 20th case of dengue fever being detected in Hong Kong this year, but all previous cases were imported from different countries, notably the Philippines, which accounted for seven of the cases.
Health officials say it's not likely the newly arrived patients got the virus on the plane
Meanwhile, there has been some good news on the local anti-Covid front. For the first time in more than a month, not a single case of local infection was recorded over the past 24 hours.

But the news is grim elsewhere around the world, with the overall tally of infections from the pandemic passing the two million mark, and deaths rising to almost 130,000.
Cases in the new epicenter, the United States, rose to nearly 610,000 while the death toll exceeded 26,000. 

In Hong Kong, all four new cases reported today involved patients with recent travel history. They brought the city’s total tally to 1,016.

But when asked if it was possible the new arrivals caught the virus on the plane, Dr Chuang said she didn’t think so, adding that the cases reflect the situation in the place they had come from, particularly Britain.


“If it came from the plane we would have seen a cluster of cases,” said Chuang. “The patients didn't travel together, they don’t even know each other.”

The new cases include a British permanent resident who caught the virus in his native country and was cleared to return to Hong Kong. But he again tested positive on his arrival in the city on Apr 14.

A 22-year-old student in Britain and a 36-year-old resident in the Netherlands who both tested positive, arrived on the same day. Both showed no symptoms.

The third case was a 60-year-old woman from Morocco.

The new cases marked a fourth straight day of single-digit rise in Hong Kong infections.

A total of 550 patients were still receiving treatment in 14 public hospitals. Ten were in critical condition, eight were listed as serious, and the rest were stable, said Dr Linda Yu from the Hospital Authority.

The city has so far reported four deaths from Covid-19.

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