SFH on human cases of Influenza A (H7N9) on the Mainland (with photo)

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after officiating at a public function this afternoon (April 2):

Reporter: (On the outbreak of human cases of Influenza A (H7N9) on the Mainland.)

Secretary for Food and Health: In the morning of March 31, we received notification (from the National Health and Family Planning Commission) of three cases of Influenza A (H7N9) affecting three persons in Shanghai and Anhui in the Mainland. The two patients in Shanghai have passed away and the other patient in Anhui is still receiving intensive medical treatment in Nanjing. We are concerned about these reports because, firstly, two of the three patients have already died and hence superficially the death rate is quite high. Secondly, there is no epidemiological linkage among the three reported cases which means that the three patients might have contracted the illness through different sources. This will have an implication as to whether there is a spreading of this new H7N9 virus among poultry in the Mainland.
Reporter: (On the enhanced surveillance and control measures in Hong Kong.)

Secretary for Food and Health: I convened an urgent meeting this morning with the Centre for Health Protection (of the Department of Health), the Hospital Authority, the Centre for Food Safety (of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department), and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (to discuss the enhanced surveillance and control measures in view of the confirmed human cases of Influenza A (H7N9) on the Mainland.) Various measures will be stepped up. Regarding the border control, we will ensure that the temperature measuring arrangement at all entry points to Hong Kong will be strictly adhered to. The infectious control measures in the hospitals will also be stepped up.

Reporter: What do we know of this new virus so far?

Secretary for Food and Health: The Mainland Authority has already uploaded the full gene sequence of this particular H7N9 virus onto the website and our experts in virology are able to have some insights into the properties of the virus. Firstly, it has an element enabling it to be adapted to the human environment and that is why there are human infections. Secondly and luckily, there is no evidence to show that there is drug-resistance (of this virus) to the two commonly used anti-influenza medications, including Tamiflu.

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

Ends/Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05