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SFH on powdered formula, blood donation and influenza

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after attending the Hong Kong Police College passing-out parade this morning (January 25):

Reporter: (On export restriction of powdered formula)

Secretary for Food and Health: I would like to stress again that the restriction under the Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013 applies not only to those powdered formula carried by persons when travelling outside Hong Kong. (The export restriction) is also applicable to the transportation of these products or commodities by other means, including postal means. Our bureau will liaise and work closely with the relevant departments and organisations, including the Hongkong Post, to find ways and means to strengthen our law enforcement in this particular area.   
Reporter: (On the urgent appeal by the Red Cross for blood donation)

Secretary for Food and Health: Thank you for asking this question. I have also communicated with the Red Cross on this issue. The demand for blood as well as blood products is rising rapidly in recent years. We collect currently 240 000 units of blood every year through the Blood Transfusion Service (The Red Cross). This amount is just enough (to meet the demand). Whenever there is major holiday, the shortage (of blood and blood products) will become more evident. The Red Cross has organised (blood donation programmes) with establishments such as commercial companies, non-government organisations and schools, so as to maintain a steady supply of blood donated year-round. Currently, we have come to a rather critical point of time, i.e., the Lunar New Year holiday is coming and it coincides with the examination season. I would like to appeal, on behalf of the Red Cross, to those regular blood donors as well as those people who have never donated but might consider to give the first ever blood donation, to come forward. Meanwhile, the Red Cross of course will be making very keen appeal and arrangement to facilitate such benevolent acts.

Reporter: (On latest situation of influenza)

Secretary for Food and Health: As I have pointed out earlier, we have already entered our winter peak of the seasonal influenza this year. Regarding (the number of influenza virus detections) this year under our monitoring and surveillance mechanism, we found that the prevalent strains have increased when compared with (the figures of) the past two or three years. In particular, we noted that among the various strains of influenza viruses, the H1N1 strain, in terms of proportion, has come up to more than 40 per cent of the major circulating influenza viruses. I would like to appeal again to the public for paying attention to their personal hygiene. For the vulnerable groups, please consider receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine because the composition of this year's influenza vaccine, as recommended by the World Health Organization, has already covered the H1N1 strain.   

 (Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)  

Ends/Saturday, January 25, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:16


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