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

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 10) provided an update on the two confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.

     "The epidemiological investigations, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education are proceeding," a spokesman for the DH remarked.

     Regarding the second confirmed case affecting a male patient aged 80, as of 4pm today, no additional close contacts have been identified. The number of close contacts remains at 19 while there are over 140 other contacts. Details are as follows:

(A) Nineteen close contacts remain under quarantine for 10 days since their last contact with the patient. Their specimens all tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. They were prescribed with the antiviral Tamiflu for prophylaxis. During isolation, if their health conditions change, further testing and surveillance will be conducted. They include:

1. Thirteen patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the patient in Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH);
2. His five family members; and
3. A taxi driver who had taken the patient and his family from Shenzhen Bay Port Border Control Point (SBP BCP) to TMH on December 3.

(B) Over 140 other contacts, including other relatives of the patient, health-care workers (HCWs) of TMH and the ambulance service, relevant hospital visitors and an immigration control officer at SBP BCP, remain under medical surveillance and have been offered Tamiflu prophylaxis. Among them, four HCWs of TMH newly developed non-specific symptoms and their specimens tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP.

     Regarding the first confirmed case affecting a female patient aged 36, as of 4pm, there are no additional close contacts. The number of close contacts remains at 17 while there are 230 other contacts under medical surveillance. All close contacts who completed quarantine will stay under medical surveillance for 10 more days. Among the other contacts, one HCW of TMH who newly developed non-specific symptoms tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. In addition, the client of Dr Wong Chun-yan who presented with non-specific symptoms yesterday also tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

     Six asymptomatic close contacts of the second case are currently under quarantine in Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung.

     The epidemiological investigations into the two cases by the CHP, including contact tracing, are ongoing.

     Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is under way. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments and obtain timely and accurate information. Local surveillance activities will be modified according to the WHO's recommendations.

     "We have enhanced our publicity and health education on the prevention of avian influenza. The CHP has also sent letters to government departments and related organisations to reinforce our health advice on the prevention of avian influenza," the spokesman added.

     The CHP hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries. As of 4pm today, 82 calls had been received.

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

     The spokesman also urged travellers not to visit live poultry markets in the affected areas and provinces and 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 and provinces.

Ends/Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:01


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