Thursday, January 09, 2020

HK HA & Taiwan CDC Updates On Wuhan Pneumonia Cluster


It is now four days since the last official update by the Wuhan Health Commision, which placed the number of pneumonia cases hospitalized at 59, with 7 in critical condition.  Other than the news (confirmed overnight by WHO) that a novel coronavirus is now a prime suspect, most of what we know is based on the proactive public health measures we've seen activated in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.
The most public of these steps has been the setting up of thermal imaging and screening booths at points of entry (see photo above), and isolating and testing symptomatic (fever and/or respiratory) passengers with recent travel history to Wuhan.
While Hong Kong and Taiwan (together) have identified nearly 60 people who fit that criteria - and that number is expected to grow with each day - none have been identified as `probable' cases.  Most have tested positive for influenza A, or other common respiratory viruses, and many have already been released from the hospital.
Despite a tendency for the press to call them suspect' cases, these rising numbers tell us more about the thoroughness of the local public health response than it does about any potential spread of the Wuhan pneumonia virus. 
The latest update from Hong Kong's Hospital Authority reads:

Thursday, 9 January 2020
Attention News Editors:
As at noon today (January 9), public hospitals had admitted ten patients in the past 24 hours who have been to Wuhan in the past 14 days and presented with fever, respiratory infection or pneumonia symptoms. The patients concerned had not visited wet markets in Wuhan before the onset of symptoms.
Including the above-mentioned cases, the Hospital Authority (HA) has reported 48 patient cases since December 31, 2019. Specimens of the patients concerned have been sent to the Department of Health (DH) for testing. Among all the suspected cases, 25 have been discharged and those patients staying in hospitals are in stable condition.
Meanwhile, the HA Central Committee on Infectious Disease and Emergency Responses (CCIDER) held another ad hoc meeting today to discuss the latest progress of the cluster of cases of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent in  Wuhan.
The HA reiterated that the current stockpile of personal protection equipment (PPE), such as surgical mask and N95 respirator, is adequate for three months’ consumption, which has been calculated with reference to the usage during the swine influenza pandemic in 2009. The HA has also set up hotlines for frontline staff to enquire about issues of PPE and linen supply.
Regarding isolation beds, 503 isolation beds with negative pressure facilities are immediately available currently and the present occupancy is 60%. The HA will closely monitor the utilisation and could mobilise the other 900 isolation beds with negative pressure facilities if needed.
The HA will maintain close contact with the Centre for Health Protection to monitor the latest development and to timely inform the public and healthcare workers the latest information.

The story is much the same in Taiwan, and today their CDC confirmed that their last notification from the Mainland was on January 5th.

In response to the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan in Mainland China and related test results, the CDC continued to keep in touch with the mainland and the World Health Organization, and China still maintains existing control measures.

Release Date: 2020-01-09
Officials from mainland China have not released any statistical data on cases of unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan since January 5. As of today (9), there are still 59 cases. Just received notification from the mainland. The pathogen was initially identified as a new type of coronavirus. 
Nucleic acid test results were positive in a total of 15 cases, and the full-length gene sequencing of the virus has been completed. It also showed a typical coronavirus type under an electron microscope. The CDC stated that the existing information is all expected and available. China currently has prepared for quarantine, inspection, and medical material preparation, so it still maintains its current epidemic prevention efforts.
In response to the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, Mainland China, the Department of Disease Control has started boarding and quarantine for direct flights from Wuhan on December 31, 2019. It has implemented 14 flights and quarantined 1,317 passengers and crew members.
Up to now, a total of 10 patients have symptoms. Of them, one person met the conditions for sending back to the hospital because of fever and cough symptoms. The examination has been notified. The remaining nine patients have improved and recovered. After evaluation, they do not need to be sent back.
The local government health bureau will continue to follow and care. There are 3 other cases that meet the definition of "Fever Pneumonia Cases in the History of Travel in Wuhan, China". One detected H3N2 influenza virus (which is a symptom of boarding quarantine), one detected the H1N1 influenza virus, and one was in the process of (genus Those sent after boarding quarantine).
The CDA once again reminded that people who have recently traveled to the local area and nearby areas should avoid contact with poultry and animals, go to poultry markets and raw meat, and avoid contact with patients and wash their hands with soap. If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms when you return to China, you should actively inform the air traffic control and quarantine staff to wear a mask according to the instructions. If you have symptoms within 14 days after returning to Wuhan, you should wear a mask as soon as possible and take the initiative. Inform physicians of travel history, occupation, contact history, and group situation (TOCC) for timely diagnosis and notification of physicians. For related information, please refer to the CDC website (, or call the toll-free epidemic prevention line 1922 (or 0800-001922) for inquiries.

As for what has transpired with the Wuhan case count, and epidemiological investigation, over the past 4 days . . . your guess is as good as mine.  As long as the outbreak remains confined to the Chinese mainland, they are running the show, and we will have to wait on their next update.

Stay tuned.