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Exercise PERIDOT tests Government response to outbreak of plague (with photos/video)

     The Government today (June 29) conducted a tabletop-cum-ground movement exercise codenamed PERIDOT to test inter-departmental actions in response to a major plague outbreak in Hong Kong.

     The exercise was conducted on the basis of the contingency plan for plague, which stipulates the response actions of the Department of Health (DH) to plague and collaborative actions with other government departments. More than 20 departments and organisations participated in the exercise.

     The tabletop exercise, which started this morning, tested against various scenarios that might be associated with a disease outbreak, including the detection of an increasing rat-flea index and rodent infestation rate as well as an imported case. The scenarios then escalated to the detection of a locally confirmed case and multi-cluster outbreak of human cases in Hong Kong.

     The exercise scenario of the ground movement on flea and rodent control in the afternoon unfolded against the background of an imported human case which is confirmed to be infected with bubonic plague. The DH and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) started investigation and risk assessment immediately and visited the patient's home and its vicinity. The DH also conducted epidemiological investigations such as active case finding and provided chemoprophylaxis, health advice and advice on the infection control measures required.  The FEHD's role was to survey for rodent and flea infestations and to implement rodent and flea control.

     "Plague is a communicable disease and is transmitted naturally among animal reservoirs and their fleas, particularly wild rodents. Hong Kong has been free from human plague since September 1929. However, as the classic epidemic hosts and vectors are present in Hong Kong, and there is high volume of traffic (both human and goods) from all over the world, and the disease is found in nearby countries, the risk for introduction and spread of plague to Hong Kong still exists," a spokesman for the DH said.

     The exercise provided a valuable opportunity for government departments and organisations concerned to try out their preparedness against the disease. It also helped enhance the preparedness of relevant stakeholders for any possible future outbreak of plague.

Ends/Monday, June 29, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:22


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