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Former secretary for food and health Ko Wing-man is confident that Hong Kong will win the battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic as the city is now better equipped with upgraded facilities, technology and experienced medical workers, coupled with the "unprecedented" and "effective" measures enforced at cross-boundary checkpoints that have drastically cut the flow of people between the SAR and the mainland.
"Compared with 2003, whether it"s Hong Kong or other places, I think we"re now in a much stronger position to contain the epidemic," said Ko, who was a director of the Hospital Authority and the city"s acting chief executive in the final stages of SARS outbreak 17 years ago.
"We now have more isolation facilities for infectious disease patients. We"ve trained many more experts in infectious disease control. We also have an adequate stock of protective gear for our medical staff, as well as a stronger mechanism and contingency plan to deal with the epidemic," he said.
Hong Kong had built its one and only specialized medical center to cope with an epidemic like this after the SARS outbreak — the HA Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital, which went into operation in 2007.
Currently, people suspected to have contracted infectious diseases or may have come into close contact with infected patients are isolated at holiday camps.
Hong Kong has also imposed "unprecedented and stringent" measures to reduce cross-boundary flow of people. "I really hope that, through all these measures, as well as the concerted efforts of healthcare workers and the community, we can have more effective management of the epidemic, and that it will be controlled in a short period of time," Ko said.
Hong Kong recorded a significant drop in the number of cross-boundary commuters on Saturday after the SAR government imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine on all travelers who had visited the mainland in the past two weeks.
The new policy was implemented after the SAR government decided to shut down all, but three of the 14 cross-boundary checkpoints, indefinitely to curb the spread of the virus. Only Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge remain open.
"In various provinces and cities across the mainland, stringent travel control measures are being enforced. In Hong Kong, the government made a decision after taking into consideration its administrative capabilities, the views of health experts and various factors.
"Some people have called for a shutdown of all cross-boundary checkpoints to block off all travelers from the mainland. Of course, the most thorough way to check disease infections is to stop the flow of people entirely, as well as all activities. But, this may have a negative impact on the economy and other aspects," Ko said.
"In my opinion, it"s possible this will become endemic. But, since we have yet to see the peak of novel coronavirus infections and have no further evidence, we should not be complacent, and should take the most stringent prevention measures."blank silicone wristbands wholesaledebossed wristbanddesign wristbands onlinewristband onlineembossed silicone bracelets