Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hong Kong: Press Release Concerted efforts in enhancing surveillance and control measures for novel coronavirus

 [editing is mine]

Published on: 2013-02-21
     Representatives from the Department of Health (DH) and the Hospital Authority (HA) met today (February 21) to discuss the updated global situation of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronavirus and will work together in enhancing the surveillance and control measures for the disease. This is the fourth special meeting held between the DH and the HA on the issue.

     The surveillance measures currently in place include statutorily notification of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with Novel Coronovirus and enhanced laboratory testing for novel coronavirus in severe respiratory cases with pneumonia with unknown causes, after ruling out common causative agents.

     During the meeting, representatives from the DH and the HA agreed to further enhance the laboratory surveillance for novel coronavirus.
For cases of pneumonia with unknown cause, pneumonia cases that require intensive care, clusters of pneumonia or health-care workers with pneumonia, routine testing for novel coronavirus will be carried out irrespective of travel history. These enhanced measures will be carried out starting from tomorrow (February 22).

     Speaking at a media session after the meeting, the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH, Dr Leung Ting-hung, expressed concern on the latest development of the disease in the UK.

     "The mortality of this disease is very high and several instances of human-to-human transmission are likely to have occurred in the Middle East and the UK. However, no sustained transmission or expanding clusters of infection have been identified in any country since the earliest cases traced back to April 2012," Dr Leung said.

     "Doctors are advised to be vigilant and report any suspected cases to the CHP. Health-care workers should exercise appropriate infection control measures at all times. As with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) experience, the public should pay particular attention to personal and environmental hygiene and avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry," he said, adding that the virus may remain viable in the environment for some time and can be inactivated by 1:99 household bleach.

     Dr Leung also advised travellers returning from novel coronavirus-affected countries with respiratory symptoms to wear facial masks and seek medical attention and reveal their travel histories to doctors. The CHP will closely monitor the situation and update the surveillance criteria and testing strategies accordingly.

     Also speaking at the media session, the Chief Infection Control Officer of the Hospital Authority, Dr Dominic Tsang, added that public hospitals will continue to closely monitor, promptly isolate and perform rapid diagnostic testing of patients based on defined criteria and risk factors identified.

     "Such cases will also be notified to the CHP through existing channels. Health-care workers will be updated once again on the current situation and reminded to adhere to proper infection control measures. Treatment guidelines will be provided to front-line doctors in guiding patient clinical management," Dr Tsang said.

Ends/Thursday, February 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:40

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