CHP explains rise in COVID-19 cases

March 28, 2020

(To watch the full press briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Centre for Health Protection today said a rise in COVID-19 cases is likely linked to students returning to Hong Kong from the UK and rejected concerns that they may have caught the virus during their flights.


The centre’s Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan made the remarks during a press briefing this afternoon.


“I understand many of the students came back these few days and it was around the (same) time that some of the cases turned up. Some of them had symptoms and some were asymptomatic. Because we distributed saliva bottles to them, they handed in the bottles and were detected to have asymptomatic infection.


“So it is not necessarily the planes they took that transmitted the disease. Most likely, they came from the United Kingdom where there is a major outbreak. Many of them volunteered epidemiological information concerning their contact in the UK, for example, gatherings, contacts with confirmed cases or cases with respiratory symptoms.”


Dr Chuang explained that as quite a number of COVID-19 patients were found to be asymptomatic during the incubation period, returning travellers should adhere to home quarantine measures.


“The proportion of asymptomatic infections is indeed worrying because if we know there are travellers, then we can test them or offer testing, but we can’t offer testing for the general population without any epidemiological links. So it is a very difficult situation to catch all of the cases in the community. That’s why we need social distancing and all these drastic legal measures.


“If they develop symptoms, they should call our hotline and we will arrange admission if they have symptoms. If they do not have symptoms, if they have (saliva) bottles, they should ask their friends or relatives to bring the bottles to our collection points.


“I also understand that some of them, they have put themselves under home isolation - for those who came back before March 19 - and that is a good practice that should be encouraged. And many of them phone their general practitioners without seeing them, and ask them to deliver the bottles to them. This is also a good alternative.”


For information and health advice on COVID-19, visit the Government's dedicated webpage.

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