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LC Urgent Q3: Surveillance measures for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

     Following is an urgent question by the Dr Hon Helena Wong under Rule 24(4) of the Rules of Procedure and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (June 3):


     Given that 20-odd confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have recently been found in South Korea and that the authorities have enhanced the infection control for MERS in public hospitals, will the Government inform this Council whether it will require with immediate effect all people from the Middle East and South Korea to complete and submit health declaration forms when entering Hong Kong by sea or by air; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Department of Health (DH) has been conducting body temperature checks on all inbound travellers at boundary control points, and those with fever will be examined. There is an established set of criteria for compulsory referral in respect of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which consists of clinical criteria and epidemiological criteria. The clinical criteria include body temperature at or above 38 degrees Celsius and symptoms of respiratory tract infection. The epidemiological criteria include having travelled to or resided in a country or region affected by MERS before onset of illness, or having close contact with patients infected with MERS. If an inbound traveller fulfills both the clinical and epidemiological criteria, the Port Health Office will compulsorily refer the traveller to a hospital under the Hospital Authority for further examination in an isolation ward.  

     In view of the latest outbreak situation in Korea and the fact that we have yet to obtain from the Korean authorities information on the healthcare facilities affected by MERS, the DH has enhanced surveillance measures in this regard. Inbound visitors who have recently visited healthcare facilities in Seoul and have fever and respiratory symptoms will be classified as suspected MERS cases. All visitors with fever will be referred to the port health officers at boundary control points for diagnosis. They will also be required to sign the health assessment form as a confirmation that the information provided is correct and reminded of the liability for providing false information.

     The Administration will keep in view the development of MERS and modify the preventive and control measures as appropriate.

Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:44


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