Coronavirus (COVID-19): Your Daily Update

Updated as of July 17 at 9am

There has been an explosion of information, comments and opinions on COVID-19 on the internet and social media. We believe that on serious topics in general, and on public health matters in particular, it is essential that you rely on facts and seek credible, expert information. Our mission at Healthy Matters remains to bring you the best possible information, so you can make the best choices for you and your family. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed!

COVID-19 has killed over 586,000 people (vs. about 580,000 yesterday) and infected 13.6 million (vs. 13.4 million yesterday) in over 188 countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating: while it initially took 100 days for the total number of cases to hit 1 million, it then took 10 days to go from 5 to 6 million cases, six days to go from 8 to 9 million, and five days to go from 12 to 13 million cases.

Our team keeps you posted daily, with all the key facts you need.

Latest Updates in Hong Kong

Hong Kong had 67 new local confirmed cases on Thursday. Hong Kong has seen 253 confirmed cases, including 182 local infections recorded in the past eight days according to Centre for Health Protection data.

Total number of cases: 1,656.

Number of people who are hospitalised: 319.

Number of deaths: 10.

Latest COVID-19 update (as of July 17)

Total number of cases (worldwide): 13,670,822.

Number of deaths: 586,423.

Number of people who have recovered: 7,644,665.

Top 20 countries with the most cases (source Johns Hopkins):

1. United States: 3,556,348.

2. Brazil: 1,966,967.

3. India: 968,254.

4. Russia: 751,863.

5. South Africa: 324,687. 

6. Peru: 341,123.  

7. Chile: 323,657. 

8. Mexico: 317,750.

9. United Kingdom: 294,678.

10. Iran: 267,720. 

11. Spain: 258,908. 

12. Pakistan: 257,625.

13. Italy: 243,639.

14. Saudi Arabia: 243,486. 

15. Turkey: 216,965.

16. France: 211,015.

17. Germany: 201,332.

18. Bangladesh: 196,443.

19. Colombia: 165,973.

20. Argentina: 111,959.

Latest global news about COVID-19

– The number of deaths in Latin America has surpassed that of the United States.

– California orders closure of all bars, and indoor operations of restaurants, gyms and movie theatres.

– Hong Kong is facing a third wave of COVID-19 cases. Local experts describe this 3rd wave as the most severe. 

– The number of cases in the US alone went up from 2 million to 3 million in less than 1 month.

– Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID-19.

– Australia closed inter-state border between Victoria and NSW as a result of the rise in Melbourne’s new cases where it faces a six-week new lockdown.

– The EU opens its borders to 15 countries deemed ‘safe’.

– The United Kingdom has reopened museums and cinemas from July 4.

Latest measures taken in Hong Kong

– All passengers arriving from high risk countries (Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and South Africa) need to get tested before their flight and show a certificate before boarding.

– Effective July 14, new stricter social distancing measures are to be enforced at least for 7 days: no dine-in (only takeout) at restaurants between 6pm and 5am, public gatherings are limited to 4 people, 12 types of establishments (amusement game centres, fitness centres, places of public entertainment, beauty parlours , massage establishments, mahjong tin tau premises, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or night clubs, karaoke establishments) are to be closed and masks are now mandatory on public transport.

– Hospitals have set up infection control and special visiting arrangement in non-acute hospitals.

– Bars, beauty parlours, museums and many other social places have reopened.

– The airport is shut to foreigners indefinitely.

– Closing of border points with China: Carrie Lam had announced on February 3 that only two land boundary control points will handle passengers: Shenzhen Bay and HK-Zuhai-Macao Bridge. The Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau and Macao Ferry Terminal control points have remained closed. Kai Tak Cruise Terminal operates as normal. This means that out of 14 boundary control points between HK and mainland China, 10 are closed and only 4 remain open.

Reminder: what is COVID-19?

A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. This large family of viruses causes several well-known mild to moderate respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Coronaviruses spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected person.

While most coronaviruses are not dangerous and most people actually get a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child, with mild symptoms. In some rarer instances, people have been infected by a more serious type of coronavirus, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Indeed, SARS was transmitted from civet cats to humans, and MERS from dromedary camels to humans, as reminded by World Health Organization (WHO).

A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has NOT been previously identified in humans. The new coronavirus was first named “2019-nCoV”. On February 11, WHO renamed it COVID-19.

Where does COVID-19 come from?

On 31 December 2019, China alerted the WHO of several cases of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan. Wuhan has 11 million people and is located in the central Hubei Province, which itself has 60 million people. Several of those infected by the virus worked at or visited a a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market was shut on January 1.

On January 5, Chinese officials and experts ruled out the possibility that this was a recurrence of the SARS. Tests showed that cases were due to a new coronavirus, which was named “2019-nCoV.” (it has since been renamed COVID-19 by WHO).

On January 11, China announced its first death: a 61-year-old man who had visited the seafood market. He was admitted to hospital and died on the evening of January 9 when his heart failed.

Since then, the COVID-19 has spread around the world.

If you are looking for a doctor or hospital in Hong Kong, note that new guidelines are in place. Learn all about it here.

What are the symptoms?

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to to people being severely ill and dying. As reported by CDC, symptoms can include:

– Fever

– Cough

– Difficulty breathing

– Pneumonia as shown on chest X-ray

People of older age and/or with existing health issues are deemed at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from the new coronavirus.

Read our Exclusive Interview with SARS Veteran, Dr. Sarah Borwein.

Recommendations everyone should follow to stay safe

The Center for Health Protection in Hong Kong as well as the WHO and the CDC in the US have published advice for the general public.

Below are some recommendations to note:

– Hand hygiene is one of the most important measures to reduce the spread of diseases. Always perform hand hygiene, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes; after touching public installations; or when hands are contaminated by respiratory secretions.

– Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with water and dry them with a disposable paper towel.

– If hand washing facilities are not available, rub hands with 70 to 80% alcohol-based handrub. Use sufficient amount of handrub to rub our palms, back of hands, finger webs, back of fingers, thumbs, finger tips, and then wrists. Rub for at least 20 seconds until your hands are dry. Let the alcohol dry on your hands, do not wipe it off with paper towel. It is wise to check the expiry date of the handrub before using it.

– It is important to wear a mask properly before wearing and after removing a mask. Wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places.

– Cover your mouth and nose with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing and dispose of soiled tissues into a lidded rubbish bin, then wash hands thoroughly.

– Maintain drainage pipes properly and pour about half a litre of water into drain outlets regularly.

– As far as possible, avoid crowded places and minimise social contact.

– If you develop respiratory symptoms or a fever, put on a surgical mask and seek medical advice soonest possible.


Precautions to take when travelling outside Hong Kong

– Do not travel to countries or areas where community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring. Perform personal and hand hygiene at all times.

– Avoid close contact with persons with fever or respiratory symptoms in countries or areas with possible community transmission of novel coronavirus infection.

– Do not visit wet markets, live poultry markets or farms.

– Refrain from touching animals, poultry, birds or their droppings.

– Do not consume game meat and do not patronise food premises where game meat is served.

– Avoiding consuming raw or undercooked animal products which may be contaminated by animal secretions or excretions.

– If you develop respiratory symptoms or a fever, wear a surgical mask and seek medical advice at once as soon as possible.

– Upon returning to Hong Kong, consult a doctor promptly and inform the doctor of your recent travel history and other relevant details to facilitate effective diagnosis and treatment.

What are the symptoms? When to seek medical help?

In case of a COVID-19 infection, you are particularly at risk if you have the below symptoms :

– any respiratory symptoms,

– cough,

– pneumonia as shown on chest X-ray,

– fever.

People of older age and/or with existing health issues are deemed at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from the new coronavirus.

Where to seek help in Hong Kong?

According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP), all suspected cases should be reported to the CHP and patients should be transferred to designated public hospitals for further screening, clinical management, and isolation if need be.

In the current context, it is important to note that while all private hospitals continue operating, they have put in place special measures to identify potential patients who may have contracted the new virus. Private clinics will systematically screen patients (China travel history) and take their temperature. Some clinics may even refuse seeing a patient with a high fever. If you do not pass the screening test and are considered high-risk, you will be sent to a public hospital.

If you need a doctor or hospital in Hong Kong during the new coronavirus outbreak, note that new guidelines are in place. Learn where to go and the costs involved here.

Useful resources about COVID-19

Center for Health Protection (HK)

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)

The Lancet (UK)

This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.