Opening remarks by SFH at media session after meeting Professor Malik Peiris and Professor David Hui (with photo)

     Following are the opening remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, at a media session after meeting Professor Malik Peiris and Professor David Hui this evening (June 14):

     I am very grateful that our two experts, Professor Malik Peiris and Professor David Hui, have agreed to meet with representatives from the Food and Health Bureau, the Hospital Authority and the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) immediately after they returned from Korea.
     We learnt from our experts that there is no strong evidence at present to suggest that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus has changed to become more transmissible and there is also no definite evidence of community outbreak in Korea. In fact all of the cases still appear to be linked to another confirmed case, mostly still in health care settings.  
     We are also informed about the most updated infection control measures taken by the Korean authority upon advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) expert group. Nevertheless, we are of the view that the following one or two weeks are still very critical for us to follow the direction of the development of the epidemic in Korea before we can assure that the outbreak is under control.

     In Hong Kong, we have already taken a precautionary approach to the outbreak in Korea and activated the Serious Response Level of the Government's Preparedness Plan and issued the Outbound Travel Alert. Because of the heavy traffic between Korea and Hong Kong, we think the present measures might need to be maintained for some weeks before the outbreak in Korea is under control.

     We should always remember that the largest outbreak of MERS is still in the Middle East. We need to reinforce our infection control measures in all health care facilities and maintain vigilance against all other emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases, be it MERS, Ebola or other diseases.

     The public should avoid unnecessary travel to Korea, in particular those with chronic illnesses. Travellers in Korea and the Middle East should avoid unnecessary visits to health care facilities. 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.
     The CHP will maintain close communication with the WHO and the health authority of Korea. Members of the public and the health care sector should heighten vigilance and stay alert to the latest situation.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the opening remarks.)

Ends/Sunday, June 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 22:54