The Health Bureau’s Blood Transfusion Service, which also handles the city’s blood donations, is now asking donors about their travel history as part of its donation evaluation.
People who have recently travelled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where a new coronavirus appears to have originated, will not be allowed to donate blood in Macau for 14 days after the day of their departure from Wuhan.
The measure is in place to ensure the safety of donated blood amid the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak, which is prompting concern abroad as more cities reporting confirmed cases.
The Blood Transfusion Service encourages donors to consult a doctor and notify the service if they develop respiratory symptoms within 21 days of donating blood.
On Friday, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U revealed that no cases of Wuhan pneumonia have been identified in Macau. This includes the Wuhan resident who was recently reported to be in isolation for testing for the pneumonia virus.
That same day, the secretary also visited the Conde S. Januário Hospital, where she was informed of preparations against the new coronavirus. She also met with about 70 medical personnel.
All of the patients in Macau who were previously reported as having suspected infections have been discharged.
Ao Ieong’s secretariat held another cross-departmental meeting to discuss relevant prevention topics on January 15.
Non-local students and workers travelling to mainland China during the Lunar New Year period have been issued notifications by the local government about preventing Wuhan pneumonia.
Currently, there are approximately 500 Macau students studying in Wuhan. As of Friday, the Health Bureau had managed to contact approximately 100 Macau students who had returned from Wuhan within the last 14 days, inquiring about their health. So far, none of the students have reported feeling unwell or having influenza symptoms.
Ao Ieong has reminded Macau local residents returning to the mainland to visit their families or to travel to remain cautious regarding hygiene. She urged anyone feeling unwell to wear a mask, affirming that Macau has an adequate supply of these products.
A further 17 people in central China were diagnosed with the new form of viral pneumonia. This has placed other countries on alert, as millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year holidays.
In total, 62 cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified in the city of Wuhan. The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the new cases in a statement yesterday.
A second person died of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus on the mainland last Wednesday, health authorities said, bringing the death toll to two.
The 69-year-old man, surnamed Xiong, fell ill with the respiratory condition on December 31, according to a statement last week. Xiong had abnormal renal function, severe impairment of multiple organs, inflammation of the heart muscle and several other pressing conditions when he was admitted to hospital. It was not clear whether these were pre-existing or consequences of the viral pneumonia.
Nineteen of the 62 individuals have been discharged from hospital, while eight are in critical condition.
At least half a dozen countries in Asia and three U.S. airports have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China. The three U.S. airports now screening are New York City’s John F. Kennedy, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
Thailand and Japan are among the countries screening for the virus and have collectively reported three cases among people arriving from Wuhan.
A man returning from Wuhan is the latest case in Japan. The man is currently in Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo. He was previously being looked after by family and medical staff, who are currently uninfected.
The man developed a fever and cough on January 3 while in Wuhan. He returned to Japan on January 6 and was hospitalized four days later as the symptoms persisted. His x-ray showed signs of pneumonia, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.
Thermal imaging equipment to detect abnormal body temperatures has been installed airports and seaports, the Indonesian health ministry said. Authorities will interview travelers, especially those from China and Hong Kong, with temperatures higher than 38 degrees Celsius, followed by a health check. Indonesia has not reported any cases of the new virus.
Meanwhile, German researchers have said that they have developed the first diagnostic test for the virus. Dr. Christian Drosten, the director of the Institute for Virology at Berlin’s Charité University Hospital, said the test developed by his team will allow labs to reliably diagnose the coronavirus “in a very short period of time.”
The test protocol is being made available through the World Health Organization, and laboratories can order a molecule from the German team to compare patient samples with a positive control, he said.
“We have just started receiving orders and are now starting to post the molecule,” said Drosten, who is a co-discoverer of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. He has concerns about the difficulty of transporting the molecule to certain places however, the requisite level of literacy of lab staff and the amount of people to be tested. Julie Zhu & Anthony Lam