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WHO confirms Hong Kong's interruption of endemic measles virus transmission
     The Regional Verification Commission for Measles Elimination in the Western Pacific of the World Health Organization (WHO) today (September 21, Sydney time) confirmed that Hong Kong achieved the interruption of endemic measles virus transmission.

     Welcoming the WHO's verification, the Department of Health (DH) highlighted that this is an important milestone for measles elimination in Hong Kong.

     "The WHO verifies measles elimination based on the interruption of local transmission for at least 36 months, a standard surveillance system and supportive genotyping evidence of the absence of endemic transmission. The achievement of Hong Kong exemplifies efforts of both the healthcare sector and the community in the prevention and control of local measles transmission over the years," a spokesman for the DH said.

     Measles vaccination was incorporated into the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme for children in 1967. Following the implementation of the two-dose regimen (one year old and Primary One) in 1996, and the Special Measles Vaccination Campaign in 1997 with over a million children and youngsters aged 1 to 19 immunised, measles notification rates have remarkably declined and reached a record low of eight cases in 2012. The two-dose vaccination coverage has been consistently maintained at well above 95 per cent since 2008.

     "Hong Kong maintains a quality system of measles notification, with high-performing epidemiological and laboratory surveillance for rapid responses to cases and outbreaks," the spokesman added.

     The National Verification Committee for Measles Elimination in Hong Kong was established in 2012 to monitor the progress towards measles elimination. Hong Kong applied for verification in June 2016.

     In the Western Pacific, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Japan, Macau and Korea also achieved measles-free status.
Ends/Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Issued at HKT 10:30
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