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CHP appeals for heightened vigilance against upper respiratory tract infection
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (June 14) urged members of the public to enhance their vigilance against upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) as an increasing number of URTI outbreaks in schools have been recorded recently.

     The CHP has received reports of a total of 38 institutional URTI outbreaks affecting 254 persons in the past two weeks (May 31 to June 13), compared to one URTI outbreak affecting nine persons recorded in the previous two weeks (May 17 to 30). The majority of the outbreaks reported in the past two weeks occurred in kindergartens/child care centres (56 per cent), followed by primary schools (39 per cent).

     A spokesman for the CHP said, "Young children, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases are prone to respiratory tract infection and its complications. As schools are collective assembly places, infectious diseases could easily spread among people through their daily contact."

     In view of that, the CHP today issued letters to schools to appeal for heightened vigilance and appropriate actions. Schools should check the body temperature of all students every day when they arrive at school to identify students with fever, while staff should also check their temperature before work every day. Upon the resumption of face-to-face classes from the second half of April 2022 onwards, all school staff, teachers and students are required to conduct COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) daily. Students and staff with fever or respiratory symptoms should not be allowed to attend school regardless of their RAT results. They should wear a mask and consult doctors promptly. Doctors are also urged to remain vigilant and arrange testing for respiratory infections for all patients presenting with acute respiratory symptoms.

     "Symptoms of URTI and other respiratory infections, including influenza and COVID-19, could be similar. It could be difficult to differentiate them clinically. Therefore, members of the public should get vaccinated as soon as possible as it is crucial in coping with the COVID-19 epidemic. Testing for COVID-19 early to facilitate early case detection also plays a vital role," the spokesman said.

     Meanwhile, the public should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene against influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:
  • Receive seasonal influenza vaccination for personal protection;
  • Surgical masks can prevent transmission of respiratory viruses from ill persons. It is essential for persons who are symptomatic (even if having mild symptoms) to wear a surgical mask;
  • Wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. It is important to wear a mask properly, including performing hand hygiene before wearing and after removing a mask;
  • Avoid touching one's eyes, mouth and nose;
  • Wash hands with liquid soap and water properly whenever possibly contaminated;
  • When hands are not visibly soiled, clean them with 70 to 80 per cent alcohol-based handrub;
  • Cover the nose and mouth with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly into a lidded rubbish bin, and wash hands thoroughly afterwards;
  • Maintain good indoor ventilation;
  • When having respiratory symptoms, wear a surgical mask, refrain from work or attending classes at school, avoid going to crowded places and seek medical advice promptly; and
  • Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, take adequate rest, do not smoke and avoid overstress.

     Members of the public, particularly children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, should wear a face mask and consult a doctor promptly if they develop symptoms of respiratory tract infection.

     ‚Äč‚ÄčInformation on seasonal influenza vaccination and COVID-19 vaccination is available on the websites www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/100632.html and www.covidvaccine.gov.hk respectively.
Ends/Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Issued at HKT 20:00
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