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About HKCFP > President’s Message

February 2020

An outbreak of viral pneumonia happened at the end of 2019 in the central city of Wuhan of Hubei Province in Mainland China. The pneumonia is described as “Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent”. A novel coronavirus, a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans, was found to be the causative agent. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the interim name of the disease to be “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” where ‘n’ is for novel and ‘CoV’ is for coronavirus. The new coronavirus has recent been named COVID-19, with the ‘CO’ for corona, the ‘VI’ for virus and the ‘D’ for disease. The outbreak of the disease constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. The Government has decided to raise the response level of the “Preparedness and Response Plan for Novel Infectious Disease of Public Health Significance” to the Emergency Level on 25 January 2020. Globally, the number of confirmed cases is on a rapidly rising trend at the time of writing.

The outbreak of COVID-19 inevitably reminded us of the previous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003. In order to reduce the general risk of transmission, it is very important to remind everyone to maintain good personal and environmental hygiene. 

As in every major outbreak of novel disease, the initial information about the disease could be very limited. Quite often, the news related to the novel disease could be quite conflicting and may not be easy to follow. With the team efforts of our College’s Executives and Council members, with effect from 29 January 2020, we have introduced in our own College website the links to local and international websites. providing regular update on COVID-19 for ease of reference, special thanks to the coordination and efficient work of Dr. Lau Ho Lim and Ms. Erica So. Several of our Council members also appeared in various media to share about the combat against COVID-19 infection and related issues, including Dr. Billy Chiu, Dr. Allan Ngan, Dr. Ken Ho, Dr. Lau Ho Lim, Dr. Angus Chan and myself, just to name a few. We have also been actively exploring the alternative means of conducting our CME/CPD activities during the outbreak by using various videoconferencing modalities, thanks to our Web Committee lead by Dr. Matthew Luk. With the concerted effort by Dr. Alvin Chan and the Board of Education, we would be ready to try it out in the coming couple of weeks. Professor Samuel Wong and the Research Committee launched an online survey on the doctors' response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong. Thank you all for helping to respond to the survey.

Dr. Donald Li, our WONCA President, has also reiterated the important role of family doctors and primary healthcare in Disaster / Emergency preparedness and response in relation to the novel coronavirus outbreak. ( DonaldLiontheCoronavirus.aspx) In his message, Dr. Li said, “Family doctors have the “first in, last out” role. They always stand in the forefront, as well they are also the ones who manage the aftermath of contingencies. Outbreaks would bring long-lasting consequences to the both physical and psychological health of a community, from one generation to another. Successive generations of family doctors continue to provide care and treatment.” And I agree with Dr. Li entirely. Let us unite together in the fight against the current COVID-19 outbreak!

We also received many thoughtful correspondences from Dr. Harry Nespolon, President of RACGP and his teammates Dr. Mark Miller, Mr. Nick Williamson, and Dr. Chris Hughes, as well as from Prof. Zhu Shanzhu, Chair of The Cross-Straits Medicine Exchange Association, expressing their support and solidality with our colleagues and friends in Hong Kong in the combat against the COVID-19 outbreak. We are most thankful for the mutual support from our sister organisations, international colleagues and friends in dealing with this public health emergency. Together we can overcome!

Earlier in the year, I paid a brief visit to Singapore and met up with Dr. Tan Tsz Lee, President of the College of Family Physicians of Singapore. He was very kind to show me his clinic, The Edinburgh Clinic, where he is the Principal Partner since the 1990’s. It was great to learn from Dr. Tan who is a family doctor through and through, and his clinic is thoroughly “embedded in the community” as Dr. Tan proudly describes it.

Dr. David V K CHAO