Confirmed case volume and deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus (originally known as the Wuhan pneumonia) are rising. For any expats who were in Hong Kong during the SARS era, this may be somewhat unnerving news. Still, while it’s a serious news story, there’s no need to panic. In response to the outbreak, the Hong Kong government and some private organisations have made announcements and closures across the city.
Here are some details of the announcements.
Closures and public responses to Wuhan coronavirus
So far, the government and private organisations have announced the following:
- Schools will be closed until March, 2020. Find the latest information regarding school closures here: edb.gov.hk. And, stay in touch with your school for specific instructions.
- Boarder entry points have been reduced. Passenger clearance is now only available at the Airport, Shenzhen Bay and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
- Public leisure and cultural facilities will be closed from 29 January, 2020. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced public facilities will be closed. This include all sports centres, sports grounds, pools, museums, performance venues, public and mobile libraries and music centres of the Music Office. See the statement here: info.gov.hk/gia/general
- Hong Kong Disneyland is closed. Check Disney’s website for the latest statement: hongkongdisneyland.com
- Ocean Park is closed. Check the park’s website for the latest information: oceanpark.com.hk/en
- Environmental Protection Department (EPD) facilities will be closed. This includes EcoPark visitor centre and visitor and education programmes at Community Green Stations. See the announcement here: EPD closures
- Travel to and from Wuhan is indefinitely suspended. On 25 January, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong activated the Emergency Response Level and announced a series of measures. This included indefinitely suspending flight and high-speed train services to and from Wuhan of the Hubei Province.
- Flights in and out of China have been impacted. Please check with your airline’s official website for the latest status.
In response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the government is imposing a mandatory quarantine on people entering Hong Kong from Mainland China. Also, note the below government instruction:
“In view of the worsening situation of the novel coronavirus infection and the first local infection cases yesterday (February 4), the Government announced today (February 5) that it will impose a 14-day mandatory quarantine on all the people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland, after taking into consideration the advice of the four members of the expert advisory group under the Steering Committee cum Command Centre. It is expected that the measure will further reduce cross-boundary flow of people between Hong Kong and the Mainland, thus reducing the risk of transmission and spread of the disease in the community.”
What is the Wuhan coronavirus?
Wuhan is a city in China and the location where the first cases of this virus have been reported. Hence the name, Wuhan coronavirus or Wuhan pneumonia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had linked the virus to a single seafood market in Wuhan, which has since been closed.
The WHO earlier reported that no human-to-human transmission cases have been recorded. However, it is now known that cases in Guangdong and Wuhan are the result of human-to-human transmission. Other cases have since been reported in Japan, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and other countries. On Wednesday 22 January, the first case was confirmed in Hong Kong. These patients do not have links to the original market.
China’s scientists revealed this virus is caused by a new strain that comes from the SARS family. SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome, and it caused a health crisis in Hong Kong from 2002 to 2004. There were almost 300 deaths in the city and it had a significant impact on the economy. This is why the discovery that the Wuhan flu is part of the SARS family has been such big news.
What are the symptoms?
Initially, the WHO stated symptoms are fever and difficulty breathing. Since then, the symptom list has been updated to include fever, sneezing, headache, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, and kidney failure. According to the BBC, “It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath. But in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Most victims have been elderly people, suffering from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes.”
What actions should we take to protect ourselves?
The WHO has advised the below actions to protect yourself against Wuhan coronavirus:
- Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid close contact with anyone with flu-like symptoms
- Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing
- Thoroughly cook meat and eggs
- Avoid contact with live wild animals or farm animals
Battling flu season with good immune health
Naturopath JO HERBERT-DOYLE from Central & Stanley Wellness has this advice about battling flu season with good immune heath:
When it comes to flu season, Jo says the best way to reduce the likelihood of becoming unwell is to optimise whole body wellbeing. This means keeping the whole body well as the foundation of good immune health. Her tips are:
- Eat Well. According to Jo, eating lots of colourful whole foods provides patients with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – many of which act as antioxidants therefore helping support optimal immune function rather than depleting it. Aim for three handfuls of salad or colourful veg at each main meal, plus two serves of fresh fruit each day.
- Keep your gut healthy. “Don’t ignore any gut symptoms you may experience (for example, bloating or irregular bowel habits) as these are not only abnormal but likely depleting both your immunity and energy levels, as well as creating inflammation in your body,” says Jo.
- Improve stress resilience. “When the stress hormone cortisol goes up, your innate immune function becomes suppressed leaving you more vulnerable to infections like the flu,” says Jo.
- Get enough sleep. Insufficient or unrestorative sleep is one of the biggest stressors impacting the long-term health (and immune systems) of busy people.
Of course, we can all be prepared for flu season by getting this year’s flu shot and practicing good hygiene. This includes frequent and thorough hand washing.
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