Friday, April 5, 2013

SFH on preventive and surveillance measures against human cases of Influenza A (H7N9)

[editing is mine]
Published on: 2013-04-05
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, at a media session on the enhanced surveillance and control measures in view of the confirmed human cases of Influenza A (H7N9) in the Mainland at the lobby of West Wing, Central Government Offices, Tamar, this afternoon (April 5):

Secretary for Food and Health: This morning, I convened a meeting with staff of the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority (HA), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, as well as the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to discuss the spread of the H7N9 virus in the eastern part of the Mainland and to review our corresponding preventive and surveillance measures. This afternoon, I briefed the Chief Secretary and representatives from various bureaux and departments on the latest development and our preparedness and response plan. The Chief Secretary has requested all bureaux and departments to work closely together and reiterated that the Government will provide all necessary resources and manpower to support the work.

Hong Kong currently remains at the alert level according to the risk assessment having regard to the development of the latest situation in the eastern part of the Mainland.

However, we would take the following additional measures to further enhance Hong Kong's preparedness.

The Administration has been conducting H7 avian influenza (AI) testing for wild bird carcasses and samples taken from local chicken farms, poultry wholesale and retail markets. In the past three years, we have not detected any H7 AI virus in these specimens.

At present, all live poultry from the Mainland comes from registered poultry farms in Guangdong Province, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Hainan Province. Provinces and cities in the eastern part of the Mainland where H7N9 human cases were found do not export any live poultry or poultry products to Hong Kong.

Should any poultry be found to be infected with H7 or, for that matter, H5 AI, we will put in place additional measures according to the recommendation of the World Organisation for Animal Health. This will include the suspension of import of Mainland poultry as well as culling of local poultry.

The Department of Health will also step up the temperature checking and surveillance at the immigration control points. Starting from tomorrow, extra manpower from the Auxiliary Medical Services and the Civil Aid Service, as well as the Health Surveillance Assistants, will be deployed to all immigration control points to conduct random temperature checking on travellers by using handheld temperature devices, in addition to the whole-body infrared temperature scanners.

The HA has also stepped up the infection control measures in hospitals.

A team of experts from the HA arrived in Shanghai yesterday to have exchanges with the experts there on the treatment and surveillance of Influenza A (H7N9). The delegation will return to Hong Kong this evening. Once they have returned to Hong Kong, they will be ready to give a briefing on the result of the study.

Reporter: Do you see any sign of widespread outbreaks in the Mainland, in particular in the eastern part?

Secretary for Food and Health: Up to this moment, we know that the Mainland authority has been very active in investigating the source of the outbreak.

So far, it was reported that the virus was found in pigeons and therefore the Municipal Government of Shanghai city has taken corresponding measures. In the coming days, it will be expected that more cases might be reported.

Reporter: The Government is stepping up a series of measures to protect Hong Kong from the new virus. Does it mean that Hong Kong is under a very serious level of attack?

Secretary for Food and Health: We ought to be prepared mainly because of the fact that, firstly, the Influenza A (H7N9) has caused a relatively high mortality among the infected patients up to this moment.

Secondly, the outbreak has been extending or worsening in these two or three days in the eastern part of the Mainland. That is why there is every reason for us to step up the infection control preparedness. Thank you.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Source: HKSAR Government

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