Hong Kong issues 'red alert' for S. Korea travel

Hong Kong authorities said on Tuesday they were issuing a "red alert" against non-essential travel to South Korea amid MERS outbreak.

Hong Kong issues 'red alert' for S. Korea travel

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Hong Kong issued a “red alert” formal warning against travel to South Korea on Tuesday amid a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak that has claimed seven lives in three weeks in the country.

The Security Bureau announced the second highest warning that advises people to avoid non-essential travel a day after the secretary for food and health issued a travel advisory against the territory’s residents traveling to South Korea unless necessary.

The Bureau said Tuesday that Hongkongers already in South Korea “should pay attention to announcements by local authorities and avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities,” according to the South China Morning Post.

It also advised travelers “to take precautionary measures, wear a mask and observe hand hygiene when entering healthcare facilities and visiting overcrowded places.”

Following the raised alert level, all Hong Kong tours to the country -- 600 groups with around 12,000 Hongkongers -- will be cancelled this month, the Post reported.

On Monday, Dr. Ko Wing-man, secretary for food and health, expressed concern about the MERS situation.

He said that more than 60 percent of the people diagnosed with MERS in South Korea had third-level infections and had not been exposed to the first patient diagnosed with the disease after a trip to the Middle East.

The raised response level came in the wake of two Hongkongers who had visited hospitals in the country returning from Seoul with a fever, but later testing negative for MERS.

On Tuesday, South Korea confirmed the seventh death from the disease -- which had a global fatality rate of more than 40 percent prior to its outbreak.

Officials from 15 Hong Kong travel agencies had gathered Tuesday morning to discuss ways of dealing with the situation.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, Travel Industry Council executive director, said travel agencies would be able to cope better due to the formal alert as Monday’s advisory had led to confusion among agencies.

The alert would enable tour operators to work with airlines for partial refunds, the Post quoted him as saying.

Cruise trips to South Korea, however, would not be impacted and depended on the decision of ship captains, he added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Haziran 2015, 15:52