Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
SFH on human swine flu (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, the Controller of Centre for Health Protection, Dr Thomas Tsang, and member of the Research Response Group, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, at a press conference today (May 12):

Reporter:  Mr Secretary, can I assume that you will move on containment to mitigating measures if there is , what you call, a community outbreak?  What do you mean by community outbreak?  What if the seven travellers come to Hong Kong?

Secretary for Food and Health:  No. When we define community outbreak, it means there are cases coming out from the community that we cannot actually trace the origin of their infection.  That is, we cannot find contacts, where they actually get the infection from.  So we assume that if that is the case, it means that there are always some hidden transmissions within a community.  And that is, to us, something we call community outbreak.  So if even seven incoming passengers from airlines or from the land borders come in, we still can trace their origin.  Then we still think that this is not a community outbreak.  But if we cannot catch them on time, allow them to roam around in the society, and seeing cases coming up later in a few days time, and we cannot actually identify where they come from, then it would be a community outbreak.

Reporter: How long can a virus live outside a human body?

Member of Research Response Group, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung:  It depends on the humidity and also the temperature.  In general, in winter time, especially, when you have a low temperature, especially below 10 degrees, and the humidity would only be 20 percent.  Then the virus can survive for quite a long time, up to a week may be.  But if the humidity is very high, and the temperature is high in summer time, hot and humid, then it survives for only a few hours, then it is no longer infectious.

Reporter:  Dr Tsang, you know the NW029, the plane that carried the Sichuan student back to his home, did that plane land in Hong Kong.  Do we have any travellers that are missing among us?

Controller of the Centre for Health Protection: NW025 did not land in Hong Kong. It landed in Tokyo.  But there were passengers on that plane who subsequently came to Hong Kong by other means.  So what we did was we obtained the passenger manifest, and identified those people who intended to come to Hong Kong.

Secretary for Food and Health: You are talking about the Sichuan case, right?

Reporter: I am talking about NW029.

Controller of the Centre for Health Protection: All right, NW029. Sorry about that.  Of course NW029 did not land in Hong Kong.  It was not boarded in Hong Kong.  We communicated with the Ministry of Health in Mainland China, and the preliminary response we got was that there was no Hong Kong citizen on board that plane.  But we are trying to find more details and facts.

Reporter:  (lower the emergency level)

Secretary for Food and Health:  We have to wait until more information regarding the progress in Europe because the WHO has also mentioned that if Europe is going to have more community spread and outbreaks, then they might have to consider this.  You know that the current alert system is very much based on H5 avian flu type of pandemic, that is very high level of morbidity and mortality, very high death rate.  So, it does not apply to what we are doing right now.  But since WHO is using that system, so we also follow the same system.  But, I think it is important that while we say it is emergency, we need to qualify what is emergency.  It is not just one word alone.  It means what we are facing and what we are prepared to do.  We might have to think of what way of classifying even within one level of emergency, whether they are mild, moderate or severe, but I think that is something more academic at the moment.  So, I don't think we like to complicate the picture right now.

(Please also refer to the Chinese session of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Issued at HKT 21:51


Print this page