Five additional overseas cases of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus closely monitored by DH

     The Department of Health (DH) is today (May 30) closely monitoring five additional cases of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

     According to the WHO, all five patients are from the Eastern region of the KSA, but not related to the outbreak that began in a health-care facility in April. All these patients had underlying medical conditions which required multiple hospital visits. The KSA government is conducting investigations into the likely source of infection in both the health-care and community settings.

     The first patient is a 56-year-old man who became ill on May 12 and died on May 20. The second patient is an 85-year-old woman who became ill on May 17 and is currently in critical condition. The third patient is a 76-year-old woman who became ill on May 24 and was discharged from the hospital on May 27. The fourth patient is a 77-year-old man who became ill on May 19 and died on May 26. The fifth patient is a 73-year-old man who became ill on May 18 and died on May 26.

     Additionally, an 81-year-old woman who was from the outbreak at a health-care facility in eastern KSA has died. The KSA government is continuing to investigate the outbreaks in the country.

     In France, the first laboratory-confirmed case with recent travel from the United Arab Emirates has also died.

     These bring the latest global number of confirmed cases of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus to 49, including 27 deaths.

     "The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH will seek more information on the cases from the WHO and the relevant health authorities. The CHP will stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the WHO and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments of this novel infectious disease," a DH spokesman said.

     Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and the airport for any suspected case of severe respiratory disease associated with novel coronavirus.

     "No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman stressed.

     "We would like to reassure the public that the Government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information on cases of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus. Whenever there is a suspected case, particularly involving patients with travel history to the Middle East and the affected areas, the CHP will release information to the public as soon as possible," the spokesman said.

     In view of recent clusters reported in health-care facilities, health-care workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against novel coronavirus and adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, health-care workers and visitors.

     Health-care providers are advised to be vigilant among recent travellers returning from novel coronavirus-affected areas who develop severe acute respiratory infections. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be obtained for diagnosis when possible. Doctors are reminded that novel coronavirus infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhoea, particularly in patients who are immunocompromised.

     Travellers returning from novel coronavirus-affected areas with respiratory symptoms are advised to wear face masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors.

     The spokesman reminded members of the public to take heed of personal hygiene:

* Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
* Wash hands before eating or handling food;
* Wash hands after using the toilet;
* Wash hands after sneezing or coughing and cleaning the nose; and
* Avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry.

     Members of the public may visit the CHP's website for more information on Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus ( or personal hygiene (

Ends/Thursday, May 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:48