5 March 2020
As part of the response to the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the health promotion activities in Hong Kong are in full swing with 11 sessions conducted since February. Our team has reached out to ethnic minorities, migrants and asylum seekers, street cleaners, visually impaired persons, foreign domestic helpers, homeless people and people living in subdivided flats.
Meanwhile, the 1 tonne donation of personal protective equipment has been received by Hong Kong St. John Ambulance on Thursday, 5 March. The shipment contains protective suits, shoe covers, face shields, goggles, N95 and surgical masks, gloves and gowns. In addition, another 11,000 pairs of gloves were also donated to the organisation.
The Wuhan Jinyintan hospital in Hubei province has also received the donation of 3.5 tonnes of personal protective equipment on Saturday, 29 February. The team is also looking into other ways of providing support to the outbreak response aside from the donation of much-needed, specialised medical protective equipment for frontline health workers.
Further afield, in other countries where MSF is working, teams are preparing in case of an outbreak of COVID-19. In several countries, predominantly in south and southeast Asia, MSF is in contact with the health authorities and offering support should it be needed. This includes training of health workers on infection prevention and control measures and health education for vulnerable and at-risk groups, similar to MSF’s activities in 2003 during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), caused by a related type of coronavirus.
In 2003, MSF teams worked in Hanoi, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, China to support the respective health authorities to combat SARS. MSF’s activities included training health workers on infection control and prevention in hospitals, providing medical protective equipment, running health education sessions and offering psychological support.
14 Feb 2020
Specialised medical protective equipment from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is on its way to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in the capital city of Hubei province, China, the epicentre of the current coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
“As of 13 February, there are more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases, 99% of which are in China,” says Gert Verdonck, MSF’s Emergency Coordinator for COVID-19. “Medical protective equipment is key. So, we want to contribute to supporting frontline health workers with the specialised protection they need to work safely in an outbreak of this magnitude.”
Weighing 3.5 tonnes, these supplies are being dispatched from MSF Supply in Brussels, Belgium through the Hubei Charity Federation, to reach Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, one of the hospitals on the forefront of treating patients with COVID-19.
An MSF team in Hong Kong opened a project at the end of January focusing on health education for vulnerable people. Community engagement is a crucial activity of any outbreak response and in Hong Kong, this focuses on groups who are less likely to have access to important medical information, such as the socio-economically disadvantaged. The team is also targeting those who are more vulnerable to developing severe disease if they are infected, such as the elderly.
“Our teams have already conducted face-to-face sessions with street cleaners, refugees and asylum seekers and the visually impaired in recent weeks,” says Karin Huster, who is in charge of MSF’s project in Hong Kong. “We share up-to-date, evidence-based medical information, but perhaps even more crucially, we’re there to listen and answer the many questions that this new disease has generated. Fear can often spread faster than a virus, so helping people manage their stress and anxiety is a key focus for us.”
In addition, MSF is sending a donation of one tonne of personal protective equipment to the Hong Kong St. John Ambulance service to help them carry over until their stocks can be replenished. The staff are transporting high-risk patients, and therefore, it is important to ensure that they have the specialised protection they need to work safely.
31 Jan 2020
MSF’s epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are following the fast-evolving development of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As of 30 January, there are more than 7,900 cases, more than 98% of which are in mainland China.
We have offered support to the health authorities in mainland China and Hong Kong, who are leading the respective response efforts, and offering support similar to what we did in 2003 during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), caused by a related type of coronavirus. These activities included training of healthcare staff on methods to prevent and control infections, and health education for vulnerable and at-risk groups.
An MSF team is being deployed to Hong Kong with an initial focus on health education for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and other at-risk groups.
Because the 2019-nCoV virus is new, much remains to be understood as yet. However, as with other coronaviruses, droplet infection seems to be the main mode of transmission, so infection control measures such as hand-washing and cough etiquette (cover coughs with disposable tissues or clothing) remain very important for prevention.