Sunday, 05 January 2020 | AP | Hong Kong
Hong Kong authorities activated a newly created “serious response” level on Saturday as fears spread about a mysterious infectious disease that may have been brought back by visitors to a mainland Chinese city.
Five possible cases have been reported of a viral pneumonia that has also infected at least 44 people in Wuhan, an inland city west of Shanghai and about 900 kilometers (570 miles) north of Hong Kong.
The outbreak, which emerged last month, has revived memories of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic that started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in the mainland, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
The serious response level indicates a moderate impact on Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million people. It is the second highest in a three-tier system that is part of a new government plan launched Saturday to respond to infectious diseases of unknown cause.
The city’s health department added an additional thermal imaging system at Hong Kong’s airport on Friday to check the body temperature of arriving passengers. More staff have been assigned for temperature checks at the West Kowloon high-speed rail station that connects Hong Kong to the mainland.
City leader Carrie Lam, on a visit to the train station Friday to review the health surveillance measures, urged any travelers who develop respiratory symptoms to wear surgical masks, seek medical attention and let doctors know where they have been.