A Hong Kong man has undergone tests at Queen Mary Hospital after sharing a train cabin with a tourist from Wuhan who has tested positive for the new coronavirus from China.

A 39-year-old tourist from Wuhan – who is now quarantined at Princess Margaret Hospital – has contracted the new, SARS-like coronavirus according to preliminary tests, the government said on Wednesday night. He had travelled from Wuhan, to Shenzhen and then on to Hong Kong.

Kay Chan, a 38-year-old sales representative, told HKFP that he was in Shenzhen for work before taking the 7:54pm G5607 Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express train home in the same cabin as the infected patient.

Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link
Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. File Photo: GovHK.

Nine people have died and 471 have been infected in China thus far, according to China’s National Health Commission.

There have been four cases in Thailand, as well as single cases in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the US. Macau authorities also said the city recorded its first confirmed case of the virus on Wednesday.

Princess Margaret Hospital Wuhan patient
The infected patient being transferred to the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Chan said he visited the Queen Mary Hospital Accident and Emergency department to conduct checks and was told that a doctor will see him: “I told my friends and family. [My family] will clean the house and my wardrobe with 1:99 [disinfectant],” he said.

Quarantine camp

Director of Health Constance Chan has asked anyone who sat in the same cabin to contact the government for check-ups. She told the press on Wednesday that anyone who sat within two rows of the patient will have to be sent to a quarantine camp.

Kay Chan told HKFP That there were only around 50 people boarding the train at Shenzhen North station, and only the first and second cabins were open.

Queen Mary Hospital
Queen Mary Hospital. Photo: Hospital Authority.

He added that he was in the second cabin, and only one-third to half of the cabin was full. He was on the eighth row, six rows away from the patient: “He was in front of me. I remember them… a large group of people. But I [couldn’t] see him coughing,” he said.

He said Hong Kong health officials at the train station measured passengers’ body temperatures one by one, but he did not witness the patient being checked: “[It’d be better] if they can collect their health reports. And I think the staff should wear masks too. I saw not all of them had [one],” he said.

wuhan flu
Around a third of MTR commuters were wearing masks on Wednesday night, according to an HKFP reporter. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The atypical form of pneumonia was first detected at a street market in Wuhan. It bears characteristics similar to SARS, which killed over 300 people in Hong Kong in 2003.

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.