CNY celebrations canceled, quarantine camp established amid Wuhan virus fears

Acting chief executive Matthew Cheung providing updates on the Wuhan coronavirus. Screengrab via Facebook/Now News.
Acting chief executive Matthew Cheung providing updates on the Wuhan coronavirus. Screengrab via Facebook/Now News.

Several major Lunar New Year events will be canceled, and passengers traveling to Hong Kong from the mainland via high speed rail will now be required to fill out health declaration forms, as health officials announced seven new suspected cases of the little-understood Wuhan coronavirus.

The arrangements were announced by acting chief executive Matthew Cheung — who is filling in for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam while she attends the World Economic Forum in Davos this — and came as health officials said a country park resort had been converted into a quarantine camp for people suspected to have had close contact with Wuhan virus patients.

Cheung said that several major events planned for the Lunar New Year — including the carnival and the Lunar New Year Football Cup — will be canceled as a health precaution.

He also said that cleansing and disinfection measures at MTR stations will be stepped up, and that local schools have been told to putt off any planned exchange tours to the mainland.

Amid reports of face masks disappearing from shelves and remaining stocks becoming increasingly expensive, Cheung also reassured people that the city will have an adequate supply of face masks, saying that the authorities have stockpiled three months’ worth of face masks, and that new shipments will come in next week.

Cheung also mentioned the new health declaration forms for arriving rail passengers at West Kowloon Station, in addition to temperature screening equipment already in place. Prior to today, health declaration forms were only required for flights from Wuhan to Hong Kong.

Hongkongers were also advised to “avoid unnecessary travel to Wuhan,” and that those who need to travel to Wuhan must “put on a surgical mask and continue to do so until 14 days after returning to Hong Kong.”

Meanwhile, health officials confirmed that seven people who had been in contact with Hong Kong’s first two confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have since fallen ill and are being isolated in hospital.

All seven are being treated as “suspected cases” for the time being, and Health Director Constance Chan confirmed that only one of the seven is considered to have had “close contact” with one of the confirmed patients.

Four other people who have had “close contact” with the infected patients have been sent to the newly established quarantine camp at the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung as a precaution, while 57 people who had some contact but are asymptomatic are being monitored.

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