Hong Kong — The first death in Hong Kong from the Wuhan virus occurred on Tuesday morning (Feb 4).
The 39-year-old man had gone to Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, on Jan 21 and returned to Hong Kong two days later.
The fatality was the 13th confirmed Wuhan virus case in the territory. There are now 15 confirmed cases there.
On his visit to Wuhan, the man did not go to a wet market or a medical facility. He experienced muscle pain on Jan 29, six days after returning to Hong Kong, and started running a fever on Jan 31.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported that the man lived in the city’s Whampoa Garden’s Phase 11 Block 1. He initially received medical treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei, and then was transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung.
The man’s death coincided with a strike by 2,500 of Hong Kong’s medical workers for a complete ban on travellers from the mainland in order to limit the spread of the Wuhan virus.
The medical workers are concerned that an epidemic of patients ill with the virus would overwhelm Hong Kong’s hospital system.
Ms Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive, announced on Monday (Feb 3) that only two land border crossings to the mainland would remain open in efforts to stop the spread of the virus. But she said that closing the whole border would be “discriminatory” and “inappropriate and impractical”.
There are now 20,438 confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus in China, as well as 426 deaths. This means that the total number of deaths have exceeded those of the Sars epidemic in 2003.
The first fatality outside China was reported in the Philippines on Sunday (Feb 2). A 44-year-old man from Wuhan who had been in the country since Jan 21 died of severe pneumonia only a day after he tested positive for the virus.
Adding the death in the Philippines, the global death toll now stands at 427.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus epidemic in China a global health emergency last Thursday (Jan 30). More than 20 countries and territories have confirmed cases of the virus.
Singapore has 18 confirmed cases but no new ones have been reported since Saturday (Feb 1). /TISG