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Epidemiological investigation and follow-up actions by CHP on confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9)

     A spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 3) provided an update on the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a woman aged 36.

     "The Serious Response Level under the Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic has been activated while the CHP's epidemiological investigation and follow-up actions are currently in full swing," the spokesman remarked.

     As of 2pm today, contact tracing conducted by the CHP has located 17 close contacts and over 200 other contacts. Details are as follows:

(A) 17 close contacts of the patient have been quarantined and prescribed with Tamiflu prophylaxis, including:

1. All the 10 home contacts, including four with non-specific symptoms, have been quarantined in Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). Their specimens all tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch (PHLSB) of the CHP;

2. The female travel collateral aged 33 who visited Shenzhen with the patient has been located and has remained asymptomatic. Her specimen tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the PHLSB and she was transferred to PMH for quarantine; and

3. Six patients who stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient in Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) are currently under quarantine in hospital pending laboratory testing.

     The Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has been converted as quarantine centre and asymptomatic close contacts will be transferred there.

(B) Over 200 other contacts of the patient have been put under medical surveillance and offered with Tamiflu prophylaxis, including:

1. The two private doctors, Dr Simon Wong Siu-shan (Shop 17, G/F, Kai Hei Land Building, 385 Castle Peak Road) and Dr Wong Chun-yan (Shop 102A-103, G/F, Kam Wah Shopping Arcade, Tuen Lung Street), practising in Tuen Mun whom the patient respectively consulted at about 11am on November 25 and around 8.30pm on November 26 have been located. Both doctors, their staff, patients and accompanying relatives (over 30 persons) have all remained asymptomatic; and

2. Over 170 healthcare workers (HCWs) in TMH and Queen Mary Hospital and the ambulance officers involved in patient transfer between the two hospitals have been identified. Seven of the HCWs who presented with non-specific symptoms have been tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

     Contact tracing by the CHP is ongoing.

     "The CHP has also enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals starting from today," the spokesman added.

     The CHP has issued letters to doctors and hospitals, kindergartens, child care centres, primary and secondary schools, as well as residential care homes for the elderly and disabled to keep them abreast of the latest situation.

     "The confirmed case has been notified to the World Health Organization, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the Mainland as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong, Zhuhai and Macau," the spokesman said.

     "All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Body temperature checks and health surveillance have been enhanced. The Port Health Office of the DH has maintained liaison with the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau in paying attention to travellers, and also cross-boundary students, who present with fever or are symptomatic. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman remarked.

     Regarding health education to travellers at BCPs, distribution of health education pamphlets, the display of posters on avian influenza A(H7N9) in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection, and the provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence have all been escalated.

     The DH will keep a close eye on the latest development and adopt corresponding port health measures.

     The CHP's hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries which will operate from 9am to 6pm. As of 4pm today, 13 enquiries were received.

     "Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas, with fever or respiratory symptoms are reminded to immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention, and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should also pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with birds, poultry or their droppings in affected areas," the spokesman advised.

     The spokesman also urged travellers not to visit wet markets with live poultry in the affected areas and to avoid direct contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.

     Members of the public should remain vigilant and are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice against avian influenza:

* Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
* Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs; or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear a mask when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

     The public may visit the CHP's avian influenza page ( and its website ( for more information on avian influenza-affected areas.

Ends/Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:17


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