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SFH on Legionnaires' Disease

     Following is a transcript of remarks (English portion) made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, at a media session at the lobby of West Wing, Central Government Offices, Tamar, this afternoon (January 4):

Reporter: Should the Government be blamed for rushing into the new Central Government Offices?

Secretary for Food and Health: There is no evidence to show that the move-in schedule of our bureaux into this building is the cause of this particular discovery of (Legionella pneumophila bacteria). We have only one patient so far and regarding the discovery of the bacteria, as I said earlier on, we have yet to conclude how significant it is. Since the kind of bacteria is very much fond of water, anywhere with water we can discover the bacteria. But why it is discovered in the outlets of a few faucets and not in the water tank, and whether it is something relating to the water pipes and so on, we have yet to conclude.

Reporter: Will the Government consider imposing tests on Legionella pneumophila bacteria in all new buildings across Hong Kong?

Secretary for Food and Health: I think this is a very difficult question to answer at the moment. Because first of all, usually the Legionnaires' Disease affects individuals in sporadic cases in Hong Kong and there is no huge threat regarding the environment so far. What we have discovered in this building, we cannot really conclude that there is a high risk for other buildings as well. We have to analyse the data that we have received and of course we also need the experts' opinions on that. Dr Thomas Tsang (Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health) may say something from the public health angle of this particular type of bacteria. As far as the World Health Organization is concerned, they do not feel that an extensive test of Legionella pneumophila bacteria in water supply is something necessary for safe water supply. So I think this is not a standard procedure.

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

Ends/Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:17


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