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Officials ‘played down’ killer virus

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Health authorities have been accused of trying to play down the lethal aspects of viral pneumonia……..

Health authorities have been accused of trying to play down the lethal aspects of viral pneumonia……..Health authorities have been accused of trying to play down the lethal aspects of viral pneumonia by saying that the four people under 50 who died over the weekend had been very sick when they were admitted for treatment. In one incident, Hospital Authority senior executive manager Liu Shao-haei was openly challenged by a man who said his wife had been able to walk into a hospital for treatment and had even been released from the intensive care unit before she died.The authority had put down the earlier deaths, mostly of those aged 60 and above, to their age or because they had suffered from other “chronic illnesses”.When questioned about the death of a 35-year-old woman with no previous health problems, Liu said: “I am, of course, not happy about this development. But some patients were very sick when they were admitted and even though they were put in intensive care we could not save them.”The woman’s husband, identified by his surname Lau, disputed this statement when interviewed on television.”My wife was able to walk by herself when she went to the United Christian Hospital with a fever,” Lau said. Both his wife and his seven-year-old son had contracted the disease.He said his wife was transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital’s intensive care unit on Wednesday after it was confirmed that she had contracted the disease, but the following day she was released from the unit after the doctor said she was not seriously ill. She died two days later, on Saturday. “[Liu] said my wife was serious when first admitted. I do not agree with his statement. My family and relatives also do not agree. I want to know the truth about my wife’s death, not a mystery. I don’t want other people to die as my wife did with their families not knowing why,” Lau said.The spokesman for the Action Group on Medical Policy, Kwok Ka-ki, also accused the government of playing down the seriousness of the problem.Medical Association president Lo Wing-lok said the deaths of younger, and apparently healthier, patients from viral pneumonia was not alarming.”People of all ages succumb to any form of infectious disease,” Lo said. “It is not surprising therefore that younger people can also die from viral pneumonia. What it means, in effect, is that the death toll among senior citizens will be higher than those in the lower age group.”Three men, aged between 40 and 52, a 45-year-old woman, and a 66-year-old woman “with a history of chronic disease” died yesterday. There were three deaths on Saturday, including Lau’s wife, bringing the death toll to 40.There were 42 new cases yesterday. These included nine medical staff, five from Amoy Gardens and 28 new patients, bringing the total number of those who have the coronavirus to 1,150. Officials say 223 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.Separately, Deputy Director of Health Lam Ping-yan said his department, the Hospital Authority and the Economic Development and Labour Bureau met with several airlines yesterday morning to talk about arrangements to check the body temperatures of departing passengers at the airport.Lam also said the departure ban on people who had been in close contact with viral pneumonia patients became effective at midnight. A list of people who had been placed under home isolation had been sent to the Immigration Department and those found defying the order would be sent to an isolation camp.The Airport Authority said that 195 flights, or 37 per cent, were cancelled yesterday. Passenger numbers over the past few days had fallen by as much as 60 per cent.Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung said his council had called for the government to release information on how many people had been infected on flights carrying those who were suffering from viral pneumonia.More buildings were added to the Health Department’s website, launched on Saturday night, bringing to 174 the number of premises in which infected patients had resided.Among the additions were Blocks 2 and 3 of Koway Court at 111 Chai Wan Road (eight patients) and a nearby shopping centre (one patient).Lam said there was no indication that Koway Court would become another Amoy Gardens.”In fact, one of the patients developed symptoms on March 25 but only went to see the doctor on April 1, almost eight days later, so the situation is totally different from that in Amoy Gardens,” Lam said.In other news, World Health Organisation spokesman Dick Thompson said there were three reasons why the travel advisory against Hong Kong remained effective.”The new form of transmission [at Amoy Gardens] is not yet understood. In addition, the disease has been exported to other countries and the burden on the hospital system remained extreme,” he said.(Source: The; Matthew Lee: 14 April 2003 / 02:51 AM)

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Posted On: 14 April, 2003
Modified On: 5 December, 2013

Created by: myVMC