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Transcript of Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food on PMH case


Following is a transcript of the remarks made by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the West Wing lobby of the Central Government Offices today (September 16):

Dr Yeoh: As you know, there was the 34-year-old lady who was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital last night from the private hospital. The patient had fever and had respiratory symptoms. However, this person had no history of travel and the family members are all well. So there is no history of any contact with anyone with similar respiratory illness.

The initial test in Princess Margaret Hospital has shown to PCR that the patient is negative for the SARS coronavirus. However, for safety sake, we're repeating the test in Department of Health's laboratories and we expect the result to be available between one to two o'clock this afternoon and the Department of Health will be announcing the results as soon as they have it, whether it is positive or negative. It will be presenting the information as it is.

Obviously, the government is on high alert. We are always watching out for possible re-emergence of SARS although the patient's history has not suggested but we are prudent. I think we are very cautious because sometimes we do not know how advanced we will be heading. So we need to exclude coronavirus of SARS as the cause of the illness and we will certainly disclose information as soon as we have it.

We are continuing with our preventive measures within the government to deal with any possible resurgence of SARS. The new isolation facilities that we announced six weeks ago, the 1,290 beds with isolation facilities, are on schedule. The first group of these isolation wards will be available by the end of this month in Princess Margaret Hospital. We have been discussing with the Hospital Authority to ensure that 70% of the 1,290 beds will be ready by October and for the rest, the Hospital Authority and the Architectural Services Department are working actively to make sure that we'll meet the schedules. As far as protective gears are concerned, the Hospital Authority has adequate stock of protective gears and the staff are simply more prepared now. So we are all on high alert.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

End/Tuesday, September 16, 2003


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