Friday, April 12, 2013

HK well stocked with antiviral drugs

April 12, 2013
The Hospital Authority is well prepared to fight any local H7N9 outbreak, with a stock of 18 million doses of Tamiflu and other medicine.

This was the message from its Chief Executive Dr Leung Pak-yin today, briefing the media on the authority’s preparedness for any avian influenza outbreak in Hong Kong.

The authority has adopted an early identification, testing and isolation strategy in fighting the H7N9 virus.

Dr Leung said they plan to curb any spread of the virus by isolating infected patients and their close contacts.

Chief Infection Control Officer Dr Dominic Tsang said patients in emergency wards will be isolated once clinical symptoms are found and risk assessments made. Medical staff with protective gear will notify the management and take patient specimens to the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch and the hospital laboratory for testing.

In recent weeks many suspected H7N9 cases have been ruled out after four hours, he said, adding the authority will continue to conduct swift tests.

Authority Director (Cluster Services) Dr Cheung Wai-lun said if there is an outbreak of the disease, the authority will reduce non-emergency and appointment services to alleviate the pressure on emergency, medical, and paediatrics wards.

More outreach teams will be sent to elderly centres to reduce hospital admissions by their residents, and designated clinics will be assigned for fever patients.

The authority has 5,300 doctors and 21,800 nurses, he said, adding it can deploy more manpower by recruiting retired and part-time medical staff.

The authority has 38 million surgical masks, 1.4 million N95 masks, and adequate protective equipment for medical staff.

Chair of Infectious Diseases, University of Hong Kong Department of Microbiology, Prof Yuen Kwok-yung said as H7N9 is in eastern region of the Mainland, Hong Kong and the Pearl River area are safe at this stage. However, he said Hong Kong must be vigilant as local poultry may be infected in winter when birds fly here.

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