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Hong Kong on high alert for Ebola

A Nigerian man suspected of having the deadly Ebola virus in Hong Kong has tested negative. It is the second Ebola scare in Hong Kong in two weeks, and health experts stressed the need for vigilance.

HONG KONG: A Nigerian man suspected of having the deadly Ebola virus in Hong Kong has tested negative. It is the second Ebola scare in Hong Kong in two weeks, and health experts stressed the need for vigilance.

The 32-year-old Nigerian man had travelled from Lagos in Nigeria and transited in Dubai before landing in Hong Kong on Thursday. He had complained of diarrhoea and vomited but had no fever. More than a week ago, a local woman had also complained of falling ill after visiting Kenya. She had also tested negative for the virus.

Hong Kong is on high alert for the Ebola virus. Travellers from affected Western African states are issued an information sheet advising them to report to health officers if they develop symptoms. It is estimated that about 4,000 travellers from West Africa visit Hong Kong each year.

Hong Kong has also issued local advisories warning against travel to Lagos, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But the government admitted that chasing up on travellers from West Africa is difficult.

Apart from temperature checks at the airport, some travellers tend to be uncooperative, refusing to declare symptoms or provide phone numbers or place of residence.

Macau has taken things further. Travellers from affected areas undergo health checks on arrival, suspected cases are put into isolation and those not showing symptoms are contacted by phone daily.

Hong Kong's Centre of Health Protection has played down concerns of Chungking Mansions - in the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui - being a possible 'ground zero' for the Ebola virus. The latest suspected victim was staying in the mansions, a maze of guesthouses and shops favoured by Africans. But many of those living and working there have been there for quite some time.

Meantime, Hong Kong has set up 59 isolation wards at Princess Margaret Hospital. The hospital acts as both a detection centre as well as a quarantine centre, should the need arise.

 

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