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SFH chairs meeting of steering committee on preparedness plan for influenza pandemic

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, today (December 3) again convened a meeting of the Steering Committee on Serious Response Level under the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic to follow up on the latest development of the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A (H7N9) in Hong Kong and relevant contingency measures.

     The meeting comprises representatives from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health, Hospital Authority (HA), the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), the Education Bureau (EDB), the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Tourism Commission, the Home Affairs Department (HAD), the Information Services Department, the Social Welfare Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

     At the meeting, the HA reported on the latest condition of the index patient and other related persons, while the CHP reported on the source of contracting the disease and the tracing of contacts with the patient.  

     The patient is in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit of Queen Mary Hospital. The CHP has so far successfully contacted over 200 persons who had contacts with the patient, including 17 persons with close contacts.  Of which, 10 home contacts of the patient were tested negative for the H7N9 virus after rapid test at this stage. Close contacts without any symptoms will be arranged to stay in non-hospitalised quarantine facilities. It is expected that five close contacts without any symptoms will be sent to Lady MacLehose Holiday Village of the LCSD in Sai Kung for quarantine tonight.

     The HA has also taken measures in preparation for activation of Serious Response Level in public hospitals and the conduct of rapid test, while its expert group has met to discuss the clinical issues relating to the treatment protocol on H7N9.

     The DH would strengthen the port health measures.  Relevant departments will help disseminate information on preventive measures for H7N9 to enhance public awareness.

     With regard to imported live poultry, the patient has reportedly visited a live bird market in Shenzhen, slaughtered and cooked a live chicken for consumption.  But details are not available.  As a precautionary measure, we have suspended the import of live poultry from the registered farms in Shenzhen starting from today.  The supply of live poultry in Hong Kong was not affected today.

     The FEHD has stepped up cleansing and disinfection of retail outlets for live poultry, as well as enhanced inspection to ensure strict compliance with the rule against overnight stocking of live poultry.  The Department has also disinfected the patient¡¦s residence.

     The AFCD has conducted visits to 15 local chicken farms and taken specimens for testing.  No irregularity was detected.  It will conduct visits to the remaining 15 local chicken farms tomorrow.  At the same time, the Department will continue to inspect the poultry wholesale market, Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and pet bird shops etc. to ensure that the birds are in healthy and normal condition.  It has also issued letters to the trade reminding them to stay alert and strictly follow the biosecurity and hygiene measures.  The Department will continue to take samples from dead birds and poultry for testing of avian influenza.

     The Government will continue to monitor the situation and maintain transparency in release of information. The CHP has set up a designated website and issued letters to inform the relevant trades the latest information and precautionary measures against the disease through the network of the EDB, the HAD and the Tourism Commission.

     The public are reminded to maintain good personal hygiene, wash hands frequently and avoid contacts with birds and poultry, while travelling the public should avoid visit to any poultry markets.  For enquiries, the public can visit the website of CHP or call its hotline (2125 1111) which operates from 9am to 6pm.

Ends/Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Issued at HKT 22:43


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