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SFH on blood donation, powdered formula, and avian influenza A(H7N9)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after attending a radio programme today (January 26):

Reporter: (On appeal for blood donation)

Secretary for Food and Health: There are various factors affecting the supply of blood and blood products to our hospitals. Firstly, after entering the winter peak of our seasonal influenza, the prevalence of other diseases has also been increasing. The current attendance and admission rates at the public hospitals are quite high. This situation will also affect the demand of blood and blood products. Coincidentally, owing to the effect of long holiday and the fact that some students are preparing for their coming examinations, we are facing a very tight (blood donation) situation. I would like to appeal to the public, for those regular blood donors, please consider making blood donation at this particular time. For those who are considering becoming the first-time donors, the (Red Cross) Blood Transfusion Service will be making various arrangements to facilitate their benevolent act.

Reporter: (On export restriction of powdered formula)

Secretary for Food and Health: Regarding the supply of powdered formula, I need to clarify that the export restriction (of powdered formula) under the Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013 applies equally to all channels of export, including cargo and postal arrangement. The regulation is that you cannot export any amount of powdered formula for infants and young children under 36 months, through any of these channels. We built in an exemption (of carrying not more than a total net weight of 1.8 kilograms of powdered formula by each person aged 16 or above on his or her first departure from Hong Kong within a 24-hour period) in the Amendment Regulation and the exemption only applies to those powdered formula carried personally by travellers. I would like to make it very clear that if any people want to export powdered formula through cargo or postal arrangement, they need to apply for an export licence (from the Trade and Industry Department). Your second question is regarding how to safeguard the local supply of powdered formula. The Government's view is that we need to maintain the export restriction (of powdered formula) under the Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013. Secondly, we need to further improve the supply chain (of powdered formula for local infants and young children), especially the pre-ordering arrangement of powdered formula (for local infants and young children). Thirdly, there is also a need to strengthen the law enforcement efforts in terms of preventing parallel trading activities. Through these measures, we hope we could ensure the stability of supply of powdered formula (for local infants and young children) through the coming long holiday.

Reporter: (On avian influenza A(H7N9))

Secretary for Food and Health: Regarding the prevention measures for avian influenza A, we introduced the serological test (for H7 avian influenza on live poultry) two days ago. The test is a targeted examination against live poultry imported into Hong Kong. As we all know, (all live poultry bound for Hong Kong) are managed separately from the poultry population for other markets on the Mainland. We hope that through the introduction of the H7 serology test, we can safeguard Hong Kong against the threat of avian influenza A(H7N9) by imported poultry.

     Another way (of importing avian influenza A(H7N9)) is through travellers. I would like to appeal to the public again, whenever you travel to an area affected by avian influenza A(H7N9), please do not get into contact with  poultry, wild birds or visit a wet market with live poultry.

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

Ends/Sunday, January 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:55


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