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Friday, May 29, 2015, 10:55

HK airport nurse tests negative for MERS virus

By Luis Liu in Hong Kong

A female nurse at Hong Kong International Airport's Port Health Office, who assessed a South Korean man suspected of contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), has tested negative for MERS Coronavirus.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) on Thursday confirmed she was in a stable condition – although she has a cough, nausea and dizziness.

She was transferred to the Hospital Authority’s Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Korean man is currently hospitalized in Huizhou, Guangdong province, where he is awaiting diagnosis.

The man had traveled from South Korea’s Incheon to Huizhou via Hong Kong on Tuesday.

He arrived at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on Asiana Airlines flight OZ723 at around 1 pm. The man subsequently took a coach, operated by Eternal East Buses, to Huizhou at 3 pm the same day.

The CHP has commenced follow-up investigations and is now tracing 166 passengers and crew from the man’s flight, as well as 10 who took the same bus, and some others who possibly had been in contact with the man.

Leung Ting-hung, Controller of the CHP, said the centre would continue to liaise with the relevant health authorities and implement a further follow-up.

The CHP has prepared other disease control measures if necessary, Leung continued.

He explained that MERS is not easily transmitted from one human being to another. There was no sign of any genetic mutation of the disease, which may potentially have rendered it more contagious.

“However, members of the public and the healthcare sector should heighten vigilance and stay alert to the latest situation," Leung cautioned.

He also urged those at risk of having contracted MERS to report to the relevant authorities.

"Passengers who travelled on flight OZ723 and Tuesday’s 3 pm Eternal East Bus from HKIA to Huizhou, should call the hotline on 2125 1111 for further assessment," Leung said. The line will operate from 9 am to 9 pm on Friday.

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