As numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases increase in the mainland and imported cases start to be reported in other countries, the government upscales its monitoring and revises its reporting criteria. On January 16, medical practitioners are required to report individuals with fever and severe respiratory symptoms fulfilling one of the following criteria within 14 days prior to demonstrating symptoms to CHR: a visit to Wuhan, and no longer only to the seafood market; the visit of a medical hospital in the mainland; or having been in close contact with a confirmed symptomatic patient. From January 21, all passengers traveling from Wuhan by air are required to fill a health declaration. However, the border remains open, and the government displays its trust in its well-developed public health system and hospital infrastructure, and in other words, in its capacity to contain the emergence of clusters linked to imported cases.
After two cases are confirmed on January 23, more measures and advice are issued. The health declaration form system is extended to travelers arriving at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. Schools are asked to reconsider their exchange activities with Mainland China, and travel to Wuhan is advised against. But the Emergency Response Level is only activated on January 25, one day after the announcement of investigations of three additional imported cases, acknowledging the COVID-19 risk as high and imminent. A Steering Committee cum Command Centre is established to develop strategies and measures against coronavirus. Chaired by Carrie Lam, the Command Center is composed by 4 workgroups and an expert advisory group. Each workgroup is assigned specific tasks and led by a secretary-level official.
Contact Tracing and disclosure of information
On January 22, a highly suspected imported coronavirus case (from Wuhan) is reported, followed by a second case the day after. Suspected individuals are placed in isolation to receive medical care, and both individuals are confirmed positive on January 23. Contact tracing starts immediately. Travel history of patients, including travel date, train/flight number and seat number, with the results of the investigation published online. All their close contacts, such as passengers seated close by, taxi drivers etc, are subject to quarantine at the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village, converted as a quarantine center to host close contacts of confirmed cases. Regarded as "contacts", passengers in the same carriage or cabin are subject to medical surveillance. A hotline is set up to answer public enquiries linked to the cases, and the CHP urges passengers on the same train/flight to call the line.
Individuals are required to share any information considered relevant to the handling of the public health emergency. Refusal leads to a maximum penalty of a HK$10,000 (US$ 1,283) fine and six months imprisonment. The general public is provided with detailed information related to confirmed and suspected cases. The CHP publishes daily a list of flights, trains, ships, vehicles taken by confirmed or suspected patients. In addition, a list of buildings that have confirmed or suspected cases, and a list of buildings where people under quarantine reside made available to the public online. To better visualize information published by various government departments, the HKSAR government launches an "Interactive Map Dashboard" on February 3. The Dashboard presents all confirmed cases on the map and provides statistical updates on the number of cases, suspected, confirmed, discharged from hospital and deceased. It also provides information on the timeline and places visited by the infected person.
Travel Ban and Reducing cross-border travel with the Mainland