SARS: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Though SARS has exacted a heavy toll on Hong Kong, its people and economy, the infection figures have remained in the single digits since early May.
According to statistical models being studied at the Chinese Univerity in Hong Kong, the infection peaked in April and is expected to burn out in June. Public health measures such as quarantine restrictions, hygiene guidelines, and massive public cleaning programs, combined with individual diligence, have all contributed to limiting the spread of the disease.
Drs. Owens,Trodd & Partners offer the following opinions:
- Hong Kong has an excellent public health system
- The population in Hong Kong is informed and generally compliant to health measures.
- The public health measures now in force are appropriate.
- The risk to our patient population is extremely small at the moment and is likely to be falling.
- There is a now a high likelihood that this outbreak can be brought under control in Hong Kong.
- In the long term it is control of the situation in China that will determine the spread of this illness in both Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
For more information on the disease, please see the following websites:
Hong Kong Department of Health website: www.info.gov.hk/dh
World Health Organisation website: www.who.int/csr/sars/en/
Centers for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/index.htm
Drs. Owens, Trodd & Partners website: www.otandp.com
General Medical Notes
Medical care, both conventional and alternative, administered by well trained and highly qualified physicians and practitioners, is widely available in Hong Kong. Hospitals are well equipped, modern and sanitary and offer a high standard of care.
Comprehensive health care services, both preventative and curative, are provided by the government and the private sector. The private and government general hospitals provide a full range of inpatient and outpatient services, 24 hour accident and emergency services, along with ambulance and paramedic services. The hospitals provide treatment in all areas of medicine and most doctors speak English.
Maternity services, such as maternity wards, ante natal programmes and classes, are all available in Hong Kong, and pediatric care is good.
Private medical care is expensive in Hong Kong. Medical coverage is usually provided by your company, although, total spousal and family coverage and the particulars of each plan depends on the particular company's policy.
If medical coverage is not provided for by your company, it might be a good idea to take out a medical insurance policy. As a holder of an HK ID card, you are entitled to treatment at any of the government clinics and hospitals at a minimal charge, but the long delays and crowded waiting rooms, makes this a less attractive option.
Tropical Diseases, like malaria, are a rare occurrence in Hong Kong, but there are occasional outbreaks. It is important that you not leave any standing water around the house and garden as stagnant water creates the ideal environment for mosquitos to breed. There are also occasional outbreaks of tuberculosis and cholera. Take preventative measures: don't drink water from the tap, avoid food stalls, and wash hands and food thoroughly (More info below).
If you are planning to travel around the region, make sure your immunizations are up to date. The Center for Disease Control offers information to travelers on health and vaccinations.
When living and traveling in foreign countries, be safe rather than sorry. Do not forget that things are often done differently in Asian countries. Furthermore, as a foreigner, your immunity against certain ailments may not be as well established as it would be for locals.
It is therefore recommended that you:
- Wash your hands more frequently
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, avoid ice in drinks
- Avoid hawkers' stalls
- Eat food that is thoroughly cooked – avoid salad in tropical climates unless you are quite certain it is safe to eat
- Wash and peel fruit before eating
- Do not eat clams during the summer months
- Protect yourself against insects by wearing trousers and long sleeved shirts and using repellent
- Don't swim in fresh water as you will be at risk of contracting schitosomiasis
- Avoid swimming in the sea after heavy rains
- Use latex condoms
- Have on hand anti-diarrheal medicine, iodine tablets (to purify water), sun block, prescription medicines.
AIDS is a major concern in Asia. To protect yourself, wear latex condoms, and avoid used needles. When having inoculation injections, make sure the needle is opened from its sealed and sterile envelope in front of you.
|Red Ribbon Centre
|Hong Kong AIDS Foundation
St. John's Cathedral HIV Education Centre
There is no effective vaccine against cholera, and as cholera may be contracted from contaminated water and food, be aware of what and where you are consuming beverages and food products, especially in the summer months.
Hepatitis A is infectious and may be passed from person to person through contaminated food and water. The incubation period is between 14-40 days and symptoms include a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes or jaundice, fever, diarrhea, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. There are those who do not show symptoms but are nevertheless carriers of the infection. Precautions, as outlined above, should be heeded. There is a vaccination against Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B may be contracted through blood transfusions and dirty needles, but may also be transmitted through bodily fluids. Sexual activity or the sharing of toothbrushes or even a drinking glass may put you at risk. The incubation period is 40 -180 days and early symptoms include general fatigue, loss of appetite, joint and muscle aches. As the disease progresses, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation may follow with a low-grade fever. The liver swells and becomes tender. Jaundice sets in at this stage. To prevent contracting the disease: be vaccinated against Hepatitis B and practice safe sex.
Malaria is a mosquito borne disease and may be contracted through mosquito bites. Preventative measures include mosquito repellants and creams - something you should always have at hand. Mosquito coils and electric "zappers" may also be purchased at the supermarket and are effective against mosquitoes. An alternative to chemical mosquito repellants is geranium essential oil.
Though there are tough measures against rabies, a few cases have been reported in the New Territories. A typical symptom of rabies is foaming at the mouth. Keep away from any dog that exhibits this symptom as it is liable to attack.
Tetanus is contracted through the improper cleaning of deep wounds infected with bacteria carried in soil. The most common means of infection is from a puncture to the foot by some soiled object, such as a nail. A vaccination against the infection may be administered.
Tuberculosis (TB) is not common in Hong Kong, though there have been a few cases reported more recently. TB is contagious and is spread through the breath, sneezes or bodily fluids of an infected person. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, and fatigue. More serious symptoms are the spitting up of blood-tinged sputum, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Children of newcomers to Hong Kong should be immunized before arriving in Hong Kong.
Typhoid may be contracted through contaminated food and drink. One should avoid eating and drinking from hawkers' stalls. A vaccination may be administered for typhoid prevention.
Most companies do include medical coverage in their packages. If medical costs are not covered by your company, then a personal insurance policy may be a smart move considering the cost of private medical care in Hong Kong. For Insurance Brokers, click here.
For emergency services, dial 999
In an emergency, you will be driven to the nearest public hospital, unless you specify to the ambulance driver that you would like to be taken to a private hospital. You may request to be taken to any hospital you would like. Initial emergency treatment is free.
|Hong Kong Adventist Hospital
40 Stubbs Road
Tel: 2547 6211
Fax: 2572 9813
1 Old Peak Road
Tel: 2522 2181
Fax: 2840 1986
|Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
2 Village Road
Tel: 2572 0211
Fax: 2835 8008
|Hong Kong Baptist Hospital |
222 Waterloo Road
Tel: 2339 8888
Fax: 2338 5394
222 Argyle Street
Tel: 2711 5221
Fax: 2761 1469
|Matilda International Hospital |
41 Mount Kellett Road
Tel: 2849 0111
|Duchess of Kent Children's Hospital
12 Sandy Bay Road
Tel: 2817 7111
Fax: 2855 0684
|The Hong Kong Central Hospital |
1 Lower Albert Road
Tel: 2522 3141
Fax: 2521 1969
The most popular hospitals amongst expats is the Adventist, Canossa and Matilda Hospitals.
|Government Hospitals on Hong Kong Side|
|Queen Mary Hospital
102 Pokfulam Road
Tel: 2855 3838
Fax: 2817 5496
266 Queen's Road East
Tel: 2291 2000
Fax: 2591 6886
Pamela Youde Nethersole
3 Lok Man Road
Tel: 2595 6205
Fax: 2515 0794
|General Room Rate: HK$ 570 per night (4 beds per room)|
|Second Class Rate: HK$ 1,540 per night (2 beds per room)|
|First Class: HK$3,000+ per night|
|Public - those with HK Identity cards and their children are entitled to the below rates at public hospitals. |
|Average daily room rate: HK$68 includes treatment and medicines|
|Out Patient consultation fee: General Clinic HK$ 37|
Specialist Clinic HK$ 44
|Inpatient First Class Ward: HK$ 3,020 |
The Matilda and Adventist Hospitals are the most popular amongst expatriate expectant mothers. Where you have your baby will depend on the obstetrician and where he or she usually delivers. The Adventist Hospital offers prenatal classes. The Matilda, meanwhile, has an antenatal and postnatal education programme, as well as exercise classes for pregnant mothers.
Delivering a baby in a private hospital will cost in the region of HK$12,000 - HK$25,000 for a natural birth, whilst a Cesarean section will cost from HK$14,000-HK$44,000. These costings do not include doctors' fees, medication, hospital board, etc.
A pregnancy package can be arranged, covering the costs of ante-natal visits, ultrasound scans, blood tests, the delivery, post-natal visits, and 6-week check up. This may be a cheaper alternative to paying for each service separately. Ask your obstetrician about this option.
Pharmacies, click here
Support Groups, click here.
Last Updated: 17 November, 2004