Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
Patient with respiratory symptoms and travel history under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (April 23) investigating a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) affecting a woman aged 30 in Queen Mary Hospital (QMH).

     The patient, with good past health, has presented with fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and malaise since yesterday (April 22). She attended QMH's Accident and Emergency Department today and was admitted for management under isolation. She is now in stable condition.

     Initial investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with her family from April 15 to 21, during which she had no contact with animals or patients. Her son has had fever and cough since April 15 and his fever has already subsided. The other travel collateral has remained asymptomatic.

     Her respiratory specimen will be taken for preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch (PHLSB).

     Locally, the DH's surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and at the airport is well in place. Suspected cases identified will be sent to public hospitals for isolation and management until their specimens test negative for MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

     "As pre-existing major illnesses can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including MERS, during travel, in view of recent pilgrimage activities, pilgrims should consult a health-care provider before travelling to assess whether it is medically advisable," a spokesman for the DH said.

     "MERS is a statutorily notifiable infectious disease and the PHLSB is capable of detecting the virus. No human cases have been recorded so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman stressed.

     "The Government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information. 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 remarked.

     Early identification of MERS-CoV is important, but not all cases can be detected in a timely manner, especially mild or atypical cases. Health-care workers (HCWs) should maintain vigilance and adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected or confirmed cases to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, HCWs or visitors. Regular education should be provided.

     Travellers returning from the Middle East who develop respiratory symptoms should wear face masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history. MERS-CoV should be tested for. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be diagnosed when possible and repeat testing should be done when clinical and epidemiological clues strongly suggest MERS.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of personal, food and environmental hygiene:

* Avoid going to farms and barns;
* Avoid contact with animals (especially camels), birds, poultry or sick people during travel;
* Wash hands regularly before and after touching animals in case of visits to farms or barns;
* Seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell;
* Avoid visits to health-care settings with MERS patients;
* Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth, and after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose;
* Wash hands before eating or handling food, and after using the toilet; and
* Avoid undercooked meats, raw fruits, vegetables (unless peeled) and unsafe water.

     The public may visit the CHP's MERS page (, the DH's Travel Health Service ( or the World Health Organization's latest news ( for more information and health advice.

Ends/Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:53


Print this page