Update on local response to latest MERS situation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (June 1) reported the latest local response to the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) exported from Korea to Mainland China.

     As of 5pm today, the CHP's contact tracing located 29 close contacts and 27 other contacts of the patient.

     One close contact, who was previously known to have returned to Korea, travelled to Hong Kong today and was intercepted at the Hong Kong International Airport. He has been asymptomatic all along and has been put under quarantine at the quarantine centre in Lady MacLehose Holiday Village.

     "DH has enhanced its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and at boundary control points. With immediate effect, inbound traveller with fever or respiratory symptoms who had recently visited any healthcare facilities in Seoul, Korea will be classified as suspected case of MERS. Suspected cases identified will be sent to public hospitals for isolation and management until their specimens test negative for MERS-CoV. The same measure is now in place to deal with suspected cases with travel history in the Middle East. The CHP has issued letter to doctors to keep them informed of the latest situation and the enhanced surveillance for MERS," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Other 18 asymptomatic close contacts in Hong Kong are under quarantine at the quarantine centre in Lady MacLehose Holiday Village.

     Besides, the 27 other contacts are under medical surveillance. Apart from the 23 reported yesterday (May 31), the other four are asymptomatic passengers onboard the same flight as the patient.

     Epidemiological investigations and contact tracing are ongoing.

     "We again strongly appeal to passengers onboard OZ 723 of Asiana Airlines who travelled from Korea and arrived in Hong Kong at around 1pm on May 26, and those onboard the three vehicles operated by Eternal East Cross-Border Coach Mgt. Ltd. on the same day to call our hotline on 2125 1111 for further assessment or follow-up. It operates till 6pm today and from 9am to 6pm tomorrow (June 2)," the spokesman said.

     "We will maintain close communication with the World Health Organization and the health authorities of Korea and the Mainland. Members of the public and the healthcare sector should heighten vigilance and stay alert to the latest situation," the spokesman said.

Ends/Monday, June 1, 2015
Issued at HKT 21:42