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

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (January 9) provided an update on the confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a man aged 65.

     "The epidemiological investigations, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education against avian influenza are all ongoing," a spokesman for the DH said.

     As of 2pm today, five close contacts and over 90 other contacts had been located.

     Close contacts have been put under quarantine for ten days since their last contact with the patient and were prescribed with the antiviral Tamiflu for prophylaxis, followed by ten more days of medical surveillance. They include:

* One family member of the patient; and
* Four patients who stayed in the same cubicle with the patient in Queen Mary Hospital.

     All of them have not developed symptoms after contacting the patient. Their respiratory specimens all tested negative for the H7 virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

     Other contacts include another family member of the patient, healthcare workers (HCWs) of relevant healthcare facilities, clients and visitors of such facilities, an officer at border control point (BCP) and the patient's neighbours. They will remain under medical surveillance.

     Among them, five developed non-specific symptoms. The respiratory specimens of three of them, including an HCW, tested negative for H7 virus while the result of the remaining two samples are pending.

     Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway.

     "We will remain vigilant and maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Mainland and overseas health authorities. Local surveillance activities will be modified according to the WHO's recommendations," the spokesman said.

     "All BCPs have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices will also be arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman added.

     Regarding health education for travellers, distribution of pamphlets, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are all proceeding.

     "We have enhanced publicity and health education against avian influenza. The CHP has also sent letters to government departments and related organisations to reinforce health advice against avian influenza," the spokesman said.

     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, 118 calls had been received.

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

     Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:

* Do not visit live poultry markets. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* 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 (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear masks when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

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

Ends/Thursday, January 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:00


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