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HK now has 5 confirmed coronavirus cases as China death toll climbs to 42

24 January 2020

By The SUN

HK's 2 confirmed coronavirus patients are in isolation in Princess Margaret Hospital 

UPDATED Jan 25: As Chinese people all over the world began celebrating the long Lunar New Year holiday, 16 more people have died in China from the dreaded novel coronavirus that started in Wuhan City, bringing the death toll to 42.

In Hong Kong, three new cases have been confirmed, bringing the known number of coronavirus patients to five. The first two confirmed cases were reported within hours of each other on Thursday. 

For the first time, two of the deaths in China occurred outside Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, sparking fears the disease is rapidly spreading.
Chinese state media reported that as of  Jan 25, the number of infected patients has risen to nearly 1,500 nationwide, nearly double the figure the previous day.

Worldwide, the total number of confirmed cases has also risen rapidly. For the first time, the contagion has spread to Europe, with France reporting 3 confirmed cases. It has also spread to South Asia, where a Nepali student in Wuhan has come down with the virus. A second case has also been reported each in the USA and Macau. Apart from Hong Kong, Thailand has 5; Singapore,,Malaysia, and Australasia, 4 each; Taiwan, 3; and South Korea, Japan and Vietnam with 2 each.

All confirmed cases had either flown out, or had traveled, to Wuhan.

Of the 42 who died in China, one was in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, and one was in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

Only Tibet among China's  31 provinces and municipalities has not reported any coronavirus case, despite lockdowns and travel bans being enforced in Wuhan and 15 other cities.
Several Chinese provinces and key cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have declared the highest level of public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, and handed management of response measures to the State Council, China’s cabinet.

In Hong Kong, the known cases have risen to 5, with the last 3 patients being confirmed hours after  testing positive in preliminary tests.

Controller of the Centre for Health Prevention Wong Ka-hing also revealed that Japan’s second confirmed patient had transited in Hong Kong.

The first coronavirus patient in Hong Kong was a 39-year-old mainland tourist who arrived via high-speed train at West Kowloon station from Shenzhen on Tuesday, Jan. 21, and showed signs of a fever. He had earlier taken another train from Wuhan to Shenzhen.
The second was a 56-year-old Hongkonger who had visited Wuhan and arrived back in Hong Kong on Jan. 19. He voluntarily submitted for tests at Prince of Wales Hospital on Jan. 21 after experiencing low-grade fever.

Both are now in isolation rooms in Princess Margaret Hospital in Kowloon.

The last three cases involved two 62-year-old women and a 63-year-old man married to one of them. All three had been in Wuhan within the past two weeks. The couple has been admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, while the other woman is in Tuen Mun Hospital.

Also today, health authorities announced that as of 8am, a record 66 new cases of suspected coronavirus were reported over a 24-hour period, as a result of using broader criteria for people showing symptoms.

The new cases brought the total number to 236, with 119 patients needing hospitalization. Two with pre-existing medical conditions are in critical condition.

The Hospital Authority says it has prepared 309 isolation wards and 570 isolated hospital beds to cope with the increasing number of suspected cases, but even those may not be enough in the near term.

There is also the problem of providing accommodation to hospital staff who are worried about going home after treating the infected patients.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the four family members of Hong Kong’s first confirmed case have already been tracked by immigration authorities. 

The group flew on to Manila aboard Cebu Pacific 5J111 yesterday morning, after staying overnight at Empire Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Their whereabouts in the Philippines has not been reported.

Philippine health authorities say the four were not stopped at the airport because they did not manifest symptoms. For the same reason, they were not tested for the virus.

 “They are not sick so there is no need to test or admit them. But we are still monitoring them,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said.

He also said the Philippines has remained free of the Wuhan contamination, despite initial tests showing a 5-year-old boy Chinese boy who was hospitalized in Cebu City was infected with an undetermined coronavirus.

Domingo said the DOH was still awaiting the results of the swab test on the boy which had been passed on to a laboratory in Melbourne, Australia for further analysis.
He urged everyone who had traveled to Wuhan since Dec 8 and are experiencing flu-like symptoms to go to public hospitals so they could be tested and treated if necessary.
In a separate interview, Health Secretary Francisco Duque II said the boy was not contagious, as he did not infect his mother who had flown in with him from Wuhan, or any of the passengers on their flight.

This led him to conclude the virus acquired by the boy could  not have been transmitted from human to human.

"The hypothesis that there is no human to human transmission is right," he said, but added the Wuhan coronavirus might be different.

Chinese media reports indicate several medical staff had been infected after treating patients with the disease.
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