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CHP reminds doctors of early laboratory investigation for suspected Zika cases
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) will issue letters to doctors and hospitals today (August 29) to remind them to conduct prompt laboratory investigation in case of patients clinically suspected of Zika Virus Infection, reiterating that early identification is key to picking up any case of Zika Virus Infection.

     "In view of emerging local Zika cases in Singapore and the confirmation of the first imported case in Hong Kong last week, due to a high volume of our international travel, there is a high risk of the introduction of Zika virus to Hong Kong. Both the public and the healthcare sector should be highly vigilant," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     The CHP reminded doctors that, in case of patients clinically suspected of Zika Virus Infection, blood and urine tests are advised. Extra caution is warranted for those with travel history to affected areas. Early identification of any unusual clusters or linkages among patients with suspicious symptoms is key to controlling possible local transmission.

     "To prevent possible local spread of Zika virus, early laboratory investigation is extremely important to identify any cases promptly to allow timely epidemiological investigations, implementation of control measures including mosquito control," the spokesman added.

     The DH's Port Health Office has stepped up inspection at boundary control points (BCPs) to maintain strict environmental hygiene with effective mosquito control. Port Health Inspectors have reinforced training for contractors of BCPs, including at the airport, harbour ports and ground crossings, on port hygiene and pest control for effective vector prevention. Health promotion at BCPs has been enhanced through pamphlets and posters to alert travellers to necessary measures against Zika.

     "Routine health surveillance on the body temperature of inbound travellers at all boundary control points is ongoing. Suspected cases will be referred to healthcare facilities for follow-up. However, at present, around 70 to 80 per cent of infected people are asymptomatic and most can recover fully. Therefore, we again urge those arriving from Zika-affected areas to apply insect repellent for at least 21 days upon arrival to reduce the risk of transmission," the spokesman said.

     The DH has been working closely with the travel industry and stakeholders, especially agents operating tours in Zika-affected areas and personnel receiving travellers in those areas (particularly pregnant women), to regularly update them on the latest disease information and health advice.

     To prevent Zika Virus Infection, in addition to general anti-mosquito measures, the DH draws the public's attention to the special notes below:

A. Travelling abroad
  • If going to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission (affected areas), travellers, especially those with immune disorders or severe chronic illnesses, should arrange consultation with a doctor at least six weeks before the trip, and take extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites;
  • Those arriving from affected areas should apply insect repellent for at least 21 days upon arrival. If feeling unwell, such as having a fever, seek medical advice as soon as possible, and provide travel details to the doctor;
  • Travellers should consider not having sex during travel to affected areas, or else condoms should be used;
  • Travellers returning from affected areas should consider abstinence for at least two months upon return, or else condoms should be used. If diagnosed with Zika Virus Infection or having compatible symptoms, they should consider abstinence for at least six months upon onset, or else condoms should be used;

B. Pregnant women and those preparing for pregnancy
  • Pregnant women and those preparing for pregnancy should not travel to affected areas. Those who must travel should seek medical advice from their doctor before the trip, adopt contraception if appropriate, strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip, and consult and reveal their travel history to their doctor if symptoms develop after the trip;
  • Women preparing for pregnancy are advised to continue to adopt contraception for at least two months after returning from affected areas if they have no symptoms of Zika Virus Infection, or six months if one or both members of the couple are symptomatic;

C. Special notes for prevention of sexual transmission regarding adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Pregnant women should not have sex with partners who have travelled to affected areas, or else condoms should be used;
  • Travellers returning from affected areas should:
  1. Abstain from sex with pregnant partners, or else use condoms throughout the pregnancy; and
  2. Use condoms for at least six months if female partners may get pregnant.

     The public may visit the following pages for more disease information and health advice: the Zika Page of the CHP and the DH's Travel Health Service, the Outbound Travel Alert page of the Security Bureau, anti-mosquito precautions for women, and the World Health Organization Zika virus situation reports.
Ends/Monday, August 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:29
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