Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
Response level for MERS raised to "Serious" (with photo)

     The Government today (June 8) decided to raise the response level for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from "Alert" to "Serious" after assessing the latest development of MERS and the risk faced by Hong Kong.

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, this afternoon convened a steering committee meeting under the mechanism of the Preparedness Plan for MERS to discuss with various relevant bureaux and departments the latest situation of the disease and corresponding prevention and control measures to safeguard public health.

     Dr Ko said, "We are very concerned about the MERS outbreaks in Korea and other Middle East countries, in particular Korea which has close economic and tourism links with Hong Kong. We appreciate that Hong Kong people are particularly worried about the current situation in Korea.

     "Confirmed MERS cases have recently been continuously found in Korea. The total number of such cases kept on increasing over the past few days, while the number of third tier transmission cases is now higher than the second tier transmission cases. Besides, we noted a recent media report in which a confirmed case was found in Busan. This shows that the risk of a community outbreak in Korea has considerably increased.

     "The contacts between Hong Kong and Korea are frequent. The air traffic between the two places is busy, with a number of flights arriving Hong Kong from Korea every day and many Hong Kong people visiting Korea. We consider that a more prudent approach should be adopted to safeguard the safety of Hong Kong people. We have therefore decided to raise the response level for MERS from 'Alert' to 'Serious'".

     On the travel health advice, Dr Ko urged the public, particularly patients with chronic illnesses, to avoid unnecessary visits to Korea. If it is necessary to go to Korea, they should adopt appropriate precautionary measures, including wearing masks in health-care facilities (HCFs) or crowded places and enhancing the awareness of hand hygiene.

     "The travel health advice issued by the Department of Health on Korea serves as a reminder with content similar to the red Outbound Travel Alert," he said.

     Travellers to the Middle East should avoid going to farms, barns or markets with camels, and avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry. They should also avoid unnecessary visits to HCFs.

     "The Centre for Health Protection will continue to maintain liaison with and obtain the latest information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities from the Mainland and Korea. We will continue to closely monitor the latest developments overseas and communicate with the WHO, the Mainland and neighbouring health authorities. The local response and health surveillance will also be adjusted if necessary," Dr Ko said.

Ends/Monday, June 8, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:58


Print this page