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SFH on human case of influenza A (H5N1)

     Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, at a stand-up media session regarding a human case of influenza A (H5N1) at the West Wing lobby of Central Government Offices today (November 17):

Reporter: Is there a risk for a community outbreak right now? Will the passengers on the same plane be traced?

Secretary for Food and Health: According to our existing analysis, there is no sign of human to human transmission. Most of the H5N1 infections are now transmitted from poultry to human. So I think we have to first concentrate on the source of infection from the poultry as origin. Of course, we need to trace all the contacts that this patient has with particularly close contact. The risk of travelling together when she came back to Hong Kong without any symptoms is extremely slim. But we will be concentrating on people who were in contact with her when she showed symptoms and also when she was in Hong Kong.

Reporter: When can we say for sure that this case is an imported or local case?

Secretary for Food and Health: I don't think we can say for certain this is an imported case or local case. According to the authorities and also the World Health Organisation, the incubation period of influenza can be as long as about two weeks. And this patient has developed her first symptom one day after she arrived back in Hong Kong. So of course when you look at that, the chances of she catching it is most likely in Mainland, but you cannot really rule out whether that is in Hong Kong as well, because even within a day, sometimes the incubation can be as short as that. We try to rule out everything according to the other circumstantial evidence in terms of contacts and also the viral studies. The viral studies might be the best indicator whether this is a virus from more Northern part of China or in the Southern part of China.

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

Ends/Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Issued at HKT 20:17


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