Asia gets first swine flu case in Hong Kong

May 2nd, 2009 - 12:55 am ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, May 1 (DPA) Asia got its first case of swine flu in Hong Kong, an official announced Friday.
The patient is a visitor from Mexico, the worst-hit country in the swine-flu outbreak, who travelled to Hong Kong from Shanghai Thursday and was staying at a hotel in the city’s Wan Chai district, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang said.

The patient has been taken to the city’s Ruttonjee Hospital and was in stable condition Friday evening, he said at a press briefing Friday night.

The hotel where the patient was staying, the Metropark, has been quarantined with all guests barred from leaving, reporters were told.

Guests staying at the hotel told the government-run radio station RTHK that no one was being allowed to leave or enter the hotel.

Tsang announced the case after a meeting of top government officials was convened Friday afternoon in response to news of the confirmed case.

The Hong Kong leader appealed to the public not to panic and said everything would be done to prevent the virus from spreading in the city of seven million.

Hong Kong has raised its swine-flu alert level from “serious” to “emergency” in response to the confirmation of the case. Details of the heightened measures were due to be announced later.

Schools were to remain open and public gatherings and exhibitions were to continue as normal but under more stringent hygiene measures, Tsang said in advance of the details being released.

News of the case came after Tsang warned earlier this week that Hong Kong was at a greater risk of a swine-flu outbreak because it is one of the world’s most densely populated cities.

Before Hong Kong’s announcement of its case, the World Health Organization said Friday that 331 human cases of swine flu have been reported in 11 countries. Ten cases have been fatal - nine in Mexico and one in the United States.

Ironically, the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in Hong Kong in 2003 was traced back to a patient from China staying in another hotel in the city.

A total of 299 people died and about 1,800 were infected with the SARS virus in the city of seven million, and the virus spread from Hong Kong around the world.

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