Preparedness and Proactive Infection Control Measures Against the Emerging Wuhan Coronavirus Pneumonia in China (2020/01/18)

In response to the official announcement of a cluster of pneumonia of unknown etiology, which has an epidemiological link to a wet market in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019,1 we present our proactive infection control measures for immediate prevention against hospital outbreaks due to such imported case into Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city in south China with an unique history in confirming the first case of human infection due to avian influenza A H5N1 in 19972 and severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003.3 Patients with H5N1 and SARS-CoV had both initially presented with either community- or hospital-acquired pneumonia of unknown etiology and not responding to broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy with typical and atypical coverage. Epidemiological exposure to wet markets with contact of poultry and civet, respectively, was subsequently recognized as a risk factor for acquisition of novel pathogens.3 Based on our previous experiences with novel respiratory infections we recognized the utmost importance of infection control preparedness in our healthcare system. Our preparedness level includes alert, serious level-1, serious level-2, and emergency; the level of activation is determined according to a risk assessment. Infection control measures and administrative support are enhanced with reference to the different levels of preparedness. With this infrastructure, we have overcome the challenge in pandemic influenza A in 2009,4,5 and emergence of avian influenza A H7N9 in 2013.6,7


Author: Vincent C.C.Cheng, Shuk-Ching Wong, Kelvin K.W.To, et al.