Express rail train taken out of service after passenger intercepted in HK with suspected Mers symptoms

15-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

An express rail train was taken out of service on Sunday night after a passenger suspected to be suffering from the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) was intercepted in Hong Kong.

The man, a foreign national, was found to have a fever and suspected Mers symptoms as he passed through the Department of Health’s Port Health Office at the cross-border rail link’s West Kowloon terminal at about 6.20pm, according to the MTR Corporation.

Both he and a companion were sent to hospital by ambulance, and areas he passed through at the terminal, including escalators and ticket gates, were washed down with a bleach and water solution.

“Staff at West Kowloon followed the established procedures based on Centre for Health Protection guidelines and immediately arranged for the cleaning and disinfection of areas of the station where the passenger had passed or stayed,” an MTR Corp spokesman said.

Commuters who had come in contact with the passenger in question or taken the same train as him were advised to wear a face mask and seek medical attention if they felt unwell.

The man had travelled to Hong Kong from Guangzhou South via the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in car No 11, train G6537, arriving at 6.18pm.

The train in question, however, had already departed for Shenzhen North and did not return to West Kowloon until 7.37pm.

“After receiving the notification, the Operations Control Centre immediately asked the train captain on board to isolate the car in which the passenger was seated,” the MTR spokesman added.

The train departed from West Kowloon again for Guangzhou South at 8.23pm and was taken out of service.

On Monday, the Centre for Health Protection reported that it had received a suspected case of Mers and that a 20-year-old man was now being isolated in Queen Elisabeth Hospital in stable condition. He had recently been to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

“Travellers to the Middle East should avoid going to farms, barns or markets with camels; avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry; and avoid unnecessary visits to health care facilities,” a spokesman for the centre said.

“We strongly advise travel agents organising tours to the Middle East to abstain from arranging camel rides and activities involving direct contact with camels, which are known risk factors for acquiring Mers.”

According to the current surveillance measures, all inbound travellers or people who recently visited the Middle East and have developed fever or lower respiratory symptoms within 14 days will be classified as suspected Mers cases and shuttled to a public hospital for isolation and management until they test negative for the virus.

Mers is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is considered deadlier but less infectious than its cousin, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which struck Hong Kong in 2003.

Symptoms of Mers infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Severe complications include pneumonia and kidney failure.


Category: Hong Kong

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