Hong Kong has reported 77 imported malaria cases, health authorities have said. Forty-seven people are being treated at public hospitals, two of whom are in a serious condition. The city has recorded two malaria-related deaths since Thursday.

Answering questions about the recent increase in imported cases of the mosquito-borne disease during Monday’s daily Covid-19 press briefing, Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said that the infection number may grow as “one to two” people were still waiting for their blood tests to confirm their status.

Head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health Chuang Shuk-kwan answered a reporter’s question on malaria at a press conference on August 8, 2022. Photo: Screenshot via GovHK.

Chuang, the head of the communicable disease branch of the CHP, said more than 100 people who arrived from African countries since July 1 were isolating at the Cosmo Hotel in Wan Chai, which is a designated quarantine facility for people regarded as close contacts of Covid-19 patients.

The city first reported a surge in imported malaria cases last Thursday. All of those infected arrived from African countries, with more than 80 per cent coming from Guinea.

Local media reported that many were Chinese workers who were employed by a Chinese company in African countries.

‘Extremely low’ risk of local transmission

The government on Sunday said it was “very concerned” about the importation of malaria cases but attempted to allay concerns over the possibility of a local malaria outbreak.

Two types of Anopheline mosquitos found in Hong Kong, Anopheles jeyporiensis (left) and Anopheles minimus (right). Photo: GovHK.

“Anopheline mosquito transmitting Malaria is not commonly found in Hong Kong and the risk of local transmission of malaria is extremely low,” Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan said, according to a press statement.

Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan (left) inspected anti-mosquito measures on August 7, 2022. Photo: GovHK.

Authorities said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department had stepped up anti-mosquito work, adding that the prevention and control of the mosquitos that carry malaria in Hong Kong have been conducted for over 60 years.

The public nonetheless was reminded to stay vigilant and take anti-mosquito measures as the hot and rainy weather could contribute to the rapid reproduction of mosquitoes.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.