As the number of confirmed cases globally has surpassed those in Hubei, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, world governments including the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, have started to enforce various guidelines on Prevention of COVID-19 for the General Public.
In this post, we will detail the precautionary measures to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 as issued by Hong Kong’s Department of Health.
On February 8, the Hong Kong government has announced that all people entering the city-state from the Mainland are required to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.
And from 6 am on 25 February 2020, all Hong Kong residents returning to Hong Kong who have been to Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in Korea in the past 14 days must stay in quarantine center for quarantine. Hong Kong residents returning from other cities and provinces of Korea will be required to undergo medical surveillance for 14 days.
In line with this, the government has provided health advice for the general public to help prevent the spread of the virus in the community:
- The public should go out less and reduce social activities, and maintain appropriate social distance with other people as far as possible.
- In the meantime, travel to Hubei Province of Mainland China where there is widespread community transmission of the COVID-19 virus is strongly discouraged.
- Also, any unnecessary travel to South Korea (especially Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do where the majority of the cases were reported) must also be avoided.
- However, when traveling to countries/areas with active community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the public should avoid close contact with persons with fever or respiratory symptoms. If it is unavoidable to come into contact with them, be sure to put on a surgical mask and continue to do so until 14 days after returning to Hong Kong.
- Upon return to Hong Kong, consult a doctor promptly if experiencing fever or other associated symptoms; take the initiative to inform the doctor of any recent travel history and any exposure to animals, and wear a surgical mask to help prevent the spread of the disease.
- Do not come in close contact with animals (including game), poultry/birds or their droppings. Avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. Do not consume game meat and do not patronize food premises where game meat is served.
Maintain good personal hygiene at all times.
- Wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. It is important to wear a mask properly, including hand hygiene before wearing and after removing a mask.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. o Keep hands clean at all times. Perform hand hygiene frequently, especially before touching your mouth, nose or eyes; before eating; after using the toilet; after touching public installations such as handrails or doorknobs; or when hands are contaminated by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse with water and dry with a disposable paper towel.
- If hand washing facilities are not available, or when hands are not visibly soiled, performing hand hygiene with 70 to 80% alcohol-based hand rub is also an effective alternative.
- Cover your nose and mouth with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Do not spit or litter. Use tissue paper to hold your spit. Dispose of the soiled tissues into a lidded rubbish bin, and then wash hands thoroughly.
- After using the toilet, put the toilet lid down before flushing to avoid contamination of the area.
- When having respiratory symptoms, wear a surgical mask, avoid going to work or attending class at school, as well as going to crowded places and seek medical advice promptly.
- N95 respirators are generally not recommended for use by the general public in community settings because special training is required for proper wearing and removal of the mask. Otherwise, the infective risk due to inadequate protection and contamination may be ironically increased.
- Avoid going to crowded places with poor ventilation if you are feeling unwell.
Maintain good environmental hygiene
- Maintain good indoor ventilation.
- Clean the household thoroughly at least once a week using 1:99 diluted household bleach (mixing 10 ml of bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite with 990 ml of water), leave for 15-30 minutes and then rinse with water.
- You may disinfect metallic surfaces with 70% alcohol.
- For places contaminated by respiratory secretions, vomitus or excreta, you may use strong absorbent disposable towels to clean up the visible matter. Then disinfect the surface and the adjacent area/s with appropriate disinfectant.
- As for non-metallic surfaces, you may disinfect with 1:49 diluted household bleach (a mixture of 10ml of household bleach containing 5.25% hypochlorite solution with 490ml of water), leave for 15 – 30 minutes, and then rinse with water.
- Maintain drainage pipes properly and regularly (about once a week). Pour about half a liter of water into each drain outlet (U-traps), to ensure environmental hygiene.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Develop good body resistance and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be achieved through a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate rest.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
Commenting on the current situation in Hong Kong, Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert from Chinese University shared that the outbreak in Hong Kong could only be considered as under control if there were no new confirmed infections in 28 days.
“So far we have few new cases every day,” he said. “But if the containment strategy is effective, we hope we will only have a new case every few days or weeks, and then we can relax the containment strategy a bit. But the most ideal is not to have any case in 28 days.”
Meanwhile, the outbreak has forced the city to call off major events at the annual Bun Festival next month, a traditional Chinese fiesta that draws tens of thousands of local and overseas visitors to the outlying island of Cheung Chau every year.
For the latest updates from Hong Kong’s Department of Health regarding COVID-19, you may visit their website.