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Third confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 8) investigating an additional confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a man aged 65.

     The patient, with underlying medical condition, lives in Sham Shui Po. He presented with fever, coughing and shortness of breath since January 3 and attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on January 7. He was admitted for chest infection. As his condition deteriorated, he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit on the same day.

     His nasopharyngeal aspirate tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP today.

     The patient is currently under isolation for further management in QMH in critical condition.

     Initial investigation by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled to Shenzhen with his family member from January 1 to 2. They passed by a wet market in Shenzhen on January 1. In Hong Kong, the patient did not go into wet markets, but he may sometimes walk pass the entrance of Pei Ho Street Market in Sham Shui Po in the morning.

     Enquiries also indicated that his close contact has remained asymptomatic so far and will be put under quarantine for 10 days since last contact with the patient. Contact tracing for his other contacts including patients in QMH who stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient as well as healthcare workers in QMH and relevant hospital visitors are underway. They will be put under medical surveillance.

     This is the third confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.

     "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," a CHP spokesman remarked.

     The CHP will issue letters to doctors and hospitals to keep them abreast of the latest situation.

     "The confirmed case has been notified to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macau," the spokesman said.

     Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the 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.

     "All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place at BCPs for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. The DH has liaised with the Auxiliary Medical Service and the Civil Aid Service to deploy additional manpower at BCPs to conduct random temperature checks using handheld devices. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman said.

     Regarding health education for travellers at BCPs, the distribution of health education pamphlets, 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 developments and adopt corresponding port health measures.

     "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.

     Since the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong on December 3, the CHP hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries. As of 4pm today, 116 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 a doctor. Healthcare 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/Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:07


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