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DH engages airport stakeholders in interdepartmental Ebola Exercise TOPAZ (with photos/video)

     The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) conducted an interdepartmental exercise codenamed TOPAZ in collaboration with airport stakeholders in Hong Kong International Airport in the small hours today (December 10) as a special drill in an aerodrome setting for the Preparedness and Response Plan for Ebola virus disease of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

     "Apart from testing the DH's necessary actions in case of a suspected Ebola case on an inbound flight, the exercise today engaged a number of counterparts from the airport and relevant operators with a view to enhancing the preparedness and responsiveness of relevant stakeholders to Ebola," a spokesman for the DH explained.

     Under the simulation, a passenger who attended a funeral in an Ebola-affected country travelled to Hong Kong on a flight, during which he developed fever and vomiting and was suspected of Ebola. The drill tested the following responses of various stakeholders:

* Air-ground communication among the cockpit crew, the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) and the DH's Port Health Office (PHO);
* In-flight precautionary measures including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the flight attendant, in-flight disease control measures, and onboard assessment on the suspected case, close contacts and other passengers;
* Collaboration between the PHO and the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) for disease control measures on the ground, risk assessment and triaging of passengers, and transfer of the suspected case to the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre; and
* Infection control measures carried out by relevant cleansing contractors, including disinfection of the airplane, airport shuttle buses and working areas in the airport terminal; gowning and de-gowning of PPE in designated areas; and waste disposal procedures.

     "The exercise again provided a valuable opportunity for relevant parties to test their preparedness and identify areas for improvement. The Government is committed to maintaining preparedness against Ebola," the spokesman said.

     Exercise TOPAZ is a series of multi-agency drills based on the Plan launched on August 20 with the Alert Response Level activated accordingly. The first phase was a household disinfection exercise held on October 29 and an investigation and disinfection exercise conducted in a guesthouse setting was held on November 6. A table-top exercise on interdepartmental responses to different scenarios on November 14 was the third phase while the exercise in a simulated quarantine centre on December 1 was the fourth.

     "We will maintain close partnership with government bureaux/departments, organisations and stakeholders concerned and will continue to update the Plan if necessary," the spokesman added.

     More than 220 persons from various departments and organisations participated in the drill, including the AA, Hong Kong Airport Services Limited, the Auxiliary Medical Service, Aviation Security Company Limited, the CAD, the Hong Kong Fire Services Department, the DH, the Hong Kong Police Force, an airline operator and three cleansing contractors.

Ends/Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Issued at HKT 09:05


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