CE learns about prevention against Zika at CHP (with photos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, upon his return to Hong Kong from India today (February 5), visited the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) to learn more about  the prevention and control measures against Zika Virus Infection.

     Accompanied by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, the Chief Executive received briefing by the Controller of CHP, Dr Leung Ting-hung, on the spread of Zika virus in different places around the world. Ongoing transmission of Zika virus has expanded rapidly in the Americas since 2015. Infection has been emerging and outbreaks have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

     The Secretary for Food and Heath updated the Chief Executive that an interdepartmental meeting with the DH, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Hospital Authority and medical experts was convened on February 1 on the latest local risk assessment as well as prevention and control measures against Zika Virus Infection.

     Dr Leung Ting-hung said the DH has maintained close communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities of other places, including Guangdong and Macau, on the surveillance of Zika. The Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Mosquito-borne Diseases will convene a meeting today to follow up on the risk of Zika Virus Infection and actions of effective vector control in Hong Kong.

     Dr Leung pointed out that the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch is capable of detecting Zika virus. A designated page for Zika Virus Infection has been set up in the CHP's website, providing ample health information for the public. Relevant travel advice has also been uploaded to DH's Travel Health Service webpage and Security Bureau's Outbound Travel Alert webpage.

     The Chief Executive took this opportunity to exchange views with the visiting Assistant Director-General of WHO, Dr Keiji Fukuda, on prevention and control measures against Zika Virus Infection. The WHO has convened an emergency committee meeting and declared that Zika Virus Infection constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

     "Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease. Members of the public should take anti-mosquito measures and prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes. Although no human cases of Zika virus have been reported locally so far, we must control the risk of its transmission as Hong Kong is an international city with frequent travellers. As the Chinese New Year is approaching, I appeal to members of the public to stay alert, particularly those who will travel abroad. Pregnant women should consider deferring their trip to areas with past or current evidence of ongoing Zika virus transmission. Travellers returning to Hong Kong should also follow the CHP's advice to take necessary precautions," the Chief Executive said.

     To enhance surveillance of the disease, the HKSAR Government today gazetted the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) Notice 2016 to add Zika Virus Infection as a notifiable infectious disease with immediate effect.

Ends/Friday, February 5, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:22