到目前為止的武漢新型冠狀病毒肺炎的演變來看，這次對香港的破壞絕不可低估。我們應該比17年前的SARS更要保持高度警覺。這個說法得到了微生物學家的支持，他們預測，武漢新型冠狀病毒肺炎的破壞力是SARS的十倍以上。 據報導，有一些無症狀的病例可能具有高度傳染性，而那些旅客過境到香港時不誠實地填寫健康聲明，這將是該疫情早期於社區內傳播的原因。因此，在與同業討論之後，在我離開香港的前兩天（2020年1月22日）我已要求食物及衞生局局長關閉與中國大陸的邊界，禁止來自中國大陸的旅客入境香港及禁止市民前往中國大陸。 直到2-3天後，政府才禁止湖北的中國大陸旅客入境。而政府在2020年1月28日的新聞發布會上卒之宣布了進一步的措施，以進一步控制跨中國大陸邊界的人員流動，但仍然不夠全面和安全。
I write this message on the plane, CX 872, from Hong Kong to San Francisco on the Chinese New Year eve. This is a 12 hour direct and a full house flight. Inside the cabin, there are people from different countries, including mainland China. However, in face of emerging deadly Acute Respiratory Syndrome from Wuhan, there is only one tenth of passengers wearing masks all along the air trip. My wife and I wore N100 all the way except during meals.
In contrast to 2003 in the SARS period when I flew over to Cornell University to visit my daughter, everybody including the whole of the air crew worn masks all along the flight. During that air trip, passengers had to change plane in Tokyo, San Francisco, Chicago finally reaching Syracuse, the intention was to split the air trip into shorter flights to decrease the chance of cross infection. But this is not practised nowadays. One reason for people not wearing masks is there is not enough in the market. I do envisage, people have learned from bitter experience last time and are more cautious.
This is the second time I visit United States during the Chinese New Year holidays and this is the second time we encountered SARS from mainland China during the Chinese New Year holidays too. What a coincidence! I do wish that I can help by not booking the trip this time, can I help? Only God knows. What I can do is I would not visit United States in future Chinese New Year holidays.
From the evolution of the WARS so far, damage to Hong Kong cannot be underestimated this time. We should be on high alert much more than SARS 17 years ago. This view is supported by microbiologists who predicted that the destruction power of WARS is much more than ten times that of SARS. As reported, there are asymptomatic cases who can be highly infectious and this will be the cause of early community spread in Hong Kong when people do not honestly make health declaration when crossing border to Hong Kong. As such, after discussion with colleagues, I have requested our Secretary for Food and Health close the border with mainland China to stop people moving from mainland China into Hong Kong and vice versa on 22nd January 2020, two days before I departed Hong Kong. It was 2-3 days later that the border was closed to mainlanders from Hubei. Further measures were announced by the government in press conference on 28th January 2020 to have further people movement control across the border with mainland China but not comprehensive and safe enough.
Last time, the spirit of health care workers in fighting against SARS was extremely high and I do hope that we could keep that degree of spirit this time. As far as protective PPE is concerned, we would source as much PPE as possible for our members. At the January 2020 Sunday afternoon symposium in Princess Margaret Hospital, we had already provided 95 boxes of surgical masks to our members at cost. We are more than happy to source further supplies of PPE on members’ request. Your needs in stocking enough protection gear are our deep concern.
The measures we suggest now to our members to combat the WARS would be similar to those in 2003. As such, I would like to quote part of the President message entitled “Who’s at fault (II)” in May 2003 issue of HKDU Bulletin as follows for your reference:-
“The measures we suggested were enforcing mask wearing in crowded areas, strict isolation measures for close contacts, close schools for two weeks and health checks in the border.” …. “Compulsory mask wearing, quarantine and isolate close contacts and hospital staff caring SARS patients, ‘close’ border between Hong Kong and Mainland china to travelers for leisure or home visits, surveillance and quarantine of visitors in the ports, posting lists of SARS affected resident areas and private doctors (on a voluntary basis).” ….”Since there is the danger of insufficient respirators and supporting medical and nursing staff in the public health care system, the most important thing now is to prevent further rise in the number of new SARS cases. The most important task for members in private practice is to educate all citizens of Hong Kong to live a healthy life style and to implement adequate preventive measures so as to decrease the chance of contracting SARS or to decrease the severity of the disease if unluckily contracted the coronavirus. We do hope that the prevalence and incidence of the virus will decrease by June 2003 due to hot weather. And we do hope that, with our professional unfailing effort, all citizens of Hong Kong can breathe fresh air without masks pretty soon.”
I do wish that we can contain the WARS much sooner than June this time. With the development of WARS vaccine soon by our scientists, I do wish that my dream will realize soon. For the time being, please take care and protect yourselves with the formula PDF.3R that I have convened to you in our 2009 booklet of guidelines in combating new infectious diseases. God bless.