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Patient with respiratory symptoms tests negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) received notification from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) today (December 30) of a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 50-year-old woman, whose respiratory specimen tested negative for the virus.
     The patient, with good past health, presented with fever, chills, rigor, sputum, sore throat, runny nose and headache since December 20 and developed loose stool on December 26. She consulted a general practitioner on December 20 with a clinical diagnosis as upper respiratory tract infection. As her symptoms persisted, she attended the Accident and Emergency Department of PMH upon her return to Hong Kong on December 29 and was admitted for further management under isolation on the same day.

     Preliminary investigation by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled to Dubai between December 25 and 29, during which she had participated in camel riding. She is currently in a stable condition. Her travel collateral presented with cough since December 20 and has already recovered.

     Her nasopharyngeal aspirate and sputum specimen tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP.

     Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism at public and private hospitals, with practising doctors and at the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

     "No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.

     "We would like to reassure the public that the Government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information on cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Whenever there is a suspected case, particularly involving patients with travel history to the Middle East, the CHP will release information to the public as soon as possible," the spokesman said.

     Health-care workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and to adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, health-care workers and visitors.

     Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be obtained for diagnosis when possible. A majority of patients diagnosed and reported to date have had respiratory disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea has been commonly reported and severe complications include renal failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome with shock. Doctors are reminded that severely immunocompromised patients might present with atypical signs and symptoms.

     Travellers should avoid contact with animals, poultry or sick people during travel and should seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell. They should also wash hands regularly before and after touching animals when visiting a farm or a barn.

     As a general precautionary measure, they should also adhere to food safety and environmental hygiene practices such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables, unless they have been peeled, and unsafe water. Those returning from the Middle East with respiratory symptoms are advised to wear face masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors.

     Relevant health advice can be found under "Current Travel Health News" on the website of the DH's Travel Health Service (

     Members of the public are also reminded to take heed of personal hygiene:

* Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
* Wash hands before eating or handling food;
* Wash hands after using the toilet;
* Wash hands after sneezing or coughing and cleaning the nose; and
* Avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry.

     The public may visit the CHP's website for more information on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ( and personal hygiene (

Ends/Monday, December 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:50


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