31 suspected Mers cases in Hong Kong tested negative

Hong Kong - Health authorities said on Thursday that 31 out of 33 suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) reported in Hong Kong in the 24 hours till Wednesday noon have tested negative.

Controller of the Centre for Health Protection, Leung Ting Hung, said no confirmed case of Mers has been found in Hong Kong so far, Xinhua news agency reported.

Starting from Thursday, the centre will update the number of suspected cases of Mers twice a day, Leung said.

He urged the public not to forward unconfirmed information about the disease on the internet, which would lead to unnecessary panic and could be violating the law, Xinhua reported.

A suspected case involving a 22-year-old woman who went to a private clinic in Tsing Yi on Wednesday was among the 31 negative cases.

The case had triggered panic in town where the area around the clinic was cordoned off and health officials there wore protective gear, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Messaging services lit up with false rumours that a Mers case had been confirmed in Hong Kong and surgical masks reportedly sold out in shops around the station.

The South China Morning Post said the woman was among four suspected cases picked up at clinics, the first time suspected cases were found outside of the airport.

Residents in Hong Kong are particularly sensitive after an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) killed 299 people in the city in 2003.