A Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) student who fell ill after returning from Wuhan did not have pneumonia. The 20-year-old mainland student tested positive with adenovirus infection and a known coronavirus, RTHK cited sources as saying.

A mysterious pneumonia outbreak is continuing to unfold in the Chinese city. A major cluster of recent infections were found near a wet market in the city, where wild animals were sold. China said the pathogen is not the SARS coronavirus that killed almost 300 people in Hong Kong in 2003.

Three people in protective suits inside the Bethlehem Hall on January 5, 2020. Photo: Facebook/CUHK Secrets.

The student was in Wuhan within 14 days prior to developing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, but she did not visit a wet market.

She returned to Hong Kong on December 29 and fell ill last Saturday. She returned to the Bethlehem Hall at the university last Sunday morning, and went to the Union Hospital to seek treatment.

The private hospital told Apple Daily that, during the triage process, a nurse explained to the student that she would have to be put into quarantine, and she may be transferred to a public hospital. The patient said she would go to a public hospital herself, according to the hospital. The hospital denied the request and refused to treat her.

Union Hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Chong Fat.

CUHK said the student then went to a hospital in Shenzhen for checks. After she returned to her residential halls, she went to the Prince of Wales Hospital for checks accompanied by paramedics and a friend.

“The university has followed the guidelines of the Centre for Health Protection to clean the student’s room, floor and public areas with bleach to ensure the health of students at the hall,” CUHK said.

It said masks and alcohol-based hand rub will be provided to students at the hall. Students can go to the University Health Service for checks if necessary.

Bethlehem Hall. Photo: CUHK.

China’s National Health Commission has reported a total of 59 viral pneumonia cases as of 8am on Sunday – the causes of which are unknown. There have been no fatal cases, and all patients are receiving treatment in isolation.

“For the time being, the Mainland’s investigation has not identified any evidence of definite human-to-human transmission and no healthcare workers have been infected,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

“While the causative pathogen and cause of infection are still under investigation, respiratory pathogens including influenza viruses, avian influenza viruses, adenovirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have been ruled out,” it added.

As of noon, Monday, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority said it admitted six more patients “who have been to Wuhan in the past 14 days and presented with fever, respiratory infection or pneumonia symptoms, including a male patient and a female patient who had attended a general practitioner and a private hospital respectively.” It said that 21 such cases have been reported since December 31, and seven of the patients have been discharged.


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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.