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Opening remarks by SFH on human swine flu (with photo/video)

     Following is a transcript of opening remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, on human swine flu at a stand-up media session at the Centre for Health Protection today (April 28):

     The steering committee on preparedness for pandemic has met today.  I have also met with the experts from the Scientific Committee of the Centre for Health Protection.

     It is important to note that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised the alert level from phase 3 to phase 4, which signifies that a pandemic is imminent and there is a possibility that we need to increase our surveillance and protection.  I also communicated with the Director-General of WHO yesterday to understand the direction and what WHO will be doing.  

     We noticed that WHO will not be imposing any travel restriction on any country and considers that mitigation of the pandemic is actually more important.  However, we feel that since Hong Kong is such a widely travelled city, we advise people, particularly those going to the infected places, to be very careful and particularly not to travel to Mexico and Mexico City unless absolutely necessary.  If you have friends, visitors or family members who will be coming to Hong Kong from Mexico and affected areas, we advise them not to travel if they are sick.  If they do come back to Hong Kong, they should try to inform the health authorities so that in case they have any symptoms, they can easily be treated and looked after.

     It is important that we should also increase the information of our visitors coming from everywhere, including the airport, so we are going to impose health declaration starting from later this week.  Apart from that, the Education Bureau has already sent letters to all secondary and primary schools as well as kindergartens, urging them to increase the hygiene of schools, step up surveillance of their students, inform the parents to increase vigilance on personal hygiene, and report to the authorities any cases of suspected swine flu.  We will also meet with the 18 District Council chairmen and try to mobilise the district committees on healthy and safe city so that they can help out in public education and activities to heighten the vigilance on regional hygiene.  

     We have discussed various scenarios that may happen to Hong Kong, particularly in case there is a first case coming here, or possible spread after the first case, the Hospital Authority and the various departments are preparing all the contingency plans for that.  We are making preparation for the worst scenario, although we hope that it will not happen, but still I think we need to have a very comprehensive preparation for such possibilities.  I would like to appeal to the public that since Hong Kong is such a densely populated city and widely travelled international city, it is our responsibility to ensure that we should minimise the impact of this possible pandemic.  This is not just the Government's responsibility.  We appeal to the public, the community, schools, industries and various trades and sectors to come up to help as well.  It is also important for each member of the community and the families to ensure that they are doing their best to keep their personal hygiene and the environment clean and healthy.  This is very important for everybody.

Ends/Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 21:29


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