Update on number of suspected MERS cases

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) provided a daily update on the number of suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) under the CHP's investigation with effect from today (June 9), and again urged the public to pay special attention to safety during travel, taking due consideration of health risks of the places of visit.

     Since the activation of the Serious Response Level under the Government's Preparedness Plan for MERS yesterday (June 8) to noon today, the CHP was notified of 19 suspected cases, including 14 tested negative for MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) upon preliminary testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch and the remaining five pending test results. Cases are detailed in the Attachment.

     "Regarding the first case exported from Korea to Mainland China, all 19 asymptomatic close contacts in Hong Kong have completed quarantine this afternoon," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     "In view of the latest situation in Korea, the public should avoid unnecessary travel to Korea, in particular, those with chronic illnesses. Travellers in Korea and the Middle East should avoid unnecessary visit to health-care facilities (HCFs)," the spokesman said.

     Locally, the DH's surveillance with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and at boundary control points is firmly in place. Inbound travellers with fever or lower respiratory symptoms who recently visited Korea and the Middle East will be classified as suspected MERS cases and taken to public hospitals for isolation and management until their specimens test negative for MERS-CoV.

     "In addition, 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. We strongly advise travel agents organising tours to the Middle East to abstain from arranging camel rides and activities involving direct contact with camels, which are a known risk factor for acquiring MERS. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), among the recently exported cases in which the patients reported performing Umrah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), investigations revealed that they had either visited an HCF or had come into contact with camels or raw camel products while in the KSA. As Ramadan will begin in mid-June, pilgrims preparing to go to the KSA for Umrah should be vigilant against MERS," the spokesman said.

     Travellers to affected areas should maintain vigilance, adopt appropriate health precautions and take heed of personal, food and environmental hygiene. The public may visit the pages below for more information and health advice:

* The CHP's MERS page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/26511.html);
* MERS statistics in affected areas (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/distribution_of_mers_cases_en.pdf);
* List of hospitals with confirmed MERS case(s) announced by Korea (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/korean_hospital_list.pdf)
* The MERS page of the DH's Travel Health Service (www.travelhealth.gov.hk/english/popup/popup.html);
* The CHP Facebook Page (www.fb.com/CentreforHealthProtection);
* The CHP YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/c/ChpGovHkChannel); and
* The WHO's latest news (www.who.int/csr/don/archive/disease/coronavirus_infections/en).

     Tour leaders and tour guides operating overseas tours are advised to refer to the CHP's health advice on MERS (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/26551.html).

Ends/Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:43