On Tuesday (February 3), a 39-year-old Hong Kong man died in the hospital, making him the first casualty of the Wuhan virus in the former British territory.
As per reports, the Hong Kong man had visited Wuhan two weeks ago. Since then, the virus has so far spread to more than 20 countries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, and several governments including the Philippines to institute travel restrictions and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.
Hong Kong Confirms First Novel Coronavirus-Related Death
The man, who suffered from a history of chronic diseases, and his mother, wife, daughter, son and domestic worker were living together in an apartment in Whampoa Garden, as shared in a report by the Asia Times.
The man was said to have visited his relatives in Wuhan by Express Rail on January 21.
Following his visit to Wuhan, the man reportedly experienced muscle pains on January 29. Two days after, he had a fever and was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for isolation. He was identified as infected on the same day.
During his confinement, the mother, wife, daughter, son and domestic worker did not show any symptoms. However, they were sent to be quarantined on February 1. The mother developed a cough and fever on the same day and was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and was then confined at Princess Margaret Hospital.
At the hospital, the man explained that he had not been to any medical institution, wet market, or seafood market. He also said he had not touched any wild animals.
Meanwhile, a property management firm in Whampoa Garden used bleach to sterilize the residential building the man was living in, as well as the public area in the estate.
The Hong Kong man died in Princess Margaret Hospital on Tuesday morning (February 4), the fifth day after he was admitted to the hospital.
In line with this, the Health Department will disclose more information about the case in the afternoon.
Officials revealed that the man also had diabetes, but had been stable until his condition suddenly deteriorated. They said the precise cause of death was unclear and would be declared by the coroner.
To date, the only other reported fatality outside of the Chinese mainland has been in the Philippines.
Hong Kong now has 17 confirmed infections, the majority of people who were infected in mainland China.
However, four cases are suspected to be local transmissions, including two people confirmed on Tuesday afternoon who have no history of recent travel to the mainland.
According to Chuang Shuk-kwan from Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection, the local transmissions were a cause for concern as it could suggest the city’s outbreak was becoming self-sustaining.
Earlier in the week, the Hong Kong government has already announced that it would close four more control points with the mainland from Tuesday due to the intensifying Wuhan epidemic.
In total, 10 of the 13 checkpoints, including the six closed last week, had been shut off. However, people could still enter Hong Kong by air and through Shenzhen Bay and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.