- "Who would want to enter Hong Kong from the mainland and be quarantined for as long as 14 days?"
- Hong Kong has 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and announced its first death from the disease on Tuesday.
- The authorities point out that the mortality rate, around 2%, is below that registered during the SARS epidemic.
The government of Hong Kong will impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all people arriving from mainland China, starting Saturday, due to the new coronavirus epidemic. The announcement was made on Wednesday, by the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam. “The measure is harsh. But I believe after we say all arrivals have to be quarantined for 14 days from Feb 8, the number of arrivals will reduce,” Lam said.
“Who would want to enter Hong Kong from the mainland and be quarantined for as long as 14 days? In view of this, we shouldn’t have to deal with a large amount of arrivals who need to go through compulsory quarantine.” The mandatory quarantine will be imposed from Saturday, so that citizens who cross the border daily can prepare. Hong Kong has 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and announced its first death from the disease on Tuesday. Last week, the semi-autonomous territory closed almost all of its border posts with China.
Millions of people in China were ordered on Wednesday to remain confined to their homes while officials are battling the coronavirus epidemic, which has so far killed 490 people. Global concern is growing as more countries register cases that have not originated from China. Ten people tested positive for the virus on a cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan.
With more than 24,000 cases in China alone, an increasing number of cities have adopted restrictions in recent days in remote areas of central Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, in a desperate attempt to stop the new coronavirus. Nearly 56 million people in Hubei province, which has the city of Wuhan as its capital, have been virtually confined since last week.
Scientists believe the disease originated in December at a market in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, which sells wild animals. The virus then spread quickly during the Lunar New Year holiday trips in January. The death toll rises daily, and has risen to at least 490 cases in China after Hubei reported 65 deaths in the past 24 hours. Most deaths occurred in the province.
The authorities point out that the mortality rate, around 2%, is below that registered during the epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another disease similar to coronavirus that killed almost 800 people in 2002-2003. The World Health Organization (WHO) has since declared the coronavirus a global health emergency. Several governments have set travel restrictions and airlines have suspended flights to and from China.
On Wednesday, Japanese authorities announced that ten passengers on a cruise carrying 3,711 people were infected with the virus. Tokyo designated a quarantine for the cruise after a passenger who landed in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the disease. The United Kingdom recommended on Tuesday to the British to leave China, if possible, to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.