The genetic structure of the new strain of coronavirus and the SARS coronavirus is different, and should not be mistaken to be the same virus.
This was the message from Centre for Health Protection Controller Dr Thomas Tsang today, telling the media that, genetically, the new coronavirus found abroad recently is different to the SARS coronavirus that struck Hong Kong in 2003.
SARS belongs to family 2B of the coronavirus family, while this new infection belongs to group 2C.
However, he said the Government still needs to implement considerable health measures to safeguard the public, as little is known about the new virus. It has stepped up surveillance measures to detect any cases that come up in Hong Kong.
“We have sent guidelines on infection control and hygiene to numerous institutions, including the tourism industry, airlines, schools, hospitals, and also our frontline staff, so they know exactly how to handle potential cases.
“We also have a plan to make this new coronavirus a notifiable disease under Hong Kong law so we will be able to use legal instruments in implementing appropriate control measures against this new virus.”
He said the Government is aware of the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, which will see many people travelling to the Middle East next month. It has been contacting consulates and religious groups to ensure health advice gets to these travellers so they can take precautions against infection.
Mr Tsang said the Government Laboratory is able to test for the new virus, as the virus sequence has been outlined by UK health authorities.
“If we have a sample, it will take us about two days to come up with a positive result.”
The Government is aware of media reports of five patients in a Denmark hospital being tested for the new coronavirus, he said, adding it will study the results when they are issued.Those results are now in: The Danes, according to Treyfish, are dealing with influenza B, not coronavirus.