CHP investigates outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection at two schools and appeals for heightened vigilance against infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (February 22) investigating two outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) at a kindergarten-cum-child care centre in Sha Tin and a kindergarten in Tsing Yi respectively. Members of the public and staff of institutions are urged again to stay alert and maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene in view of the increasing number of URTI outbreaks in schools/institutions recorded recently.

     The outbreak at the kindergarten-cum-child care centre in Sha Tin involves 26 students, comprising 16 males and 10 females aged 3 to 6. They developed symptoms since February 10. Five of them sought medical attention and one required hospitalisation, having tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). All of them are in stable condition with negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test results.

     The outbreak at the kindergarten in Tsing Yi involves 22 students, comprising 13 males and nine females aged 4 to 7. They developed symptoms since February 17. Twenty of them sought medical attention, all are in stable condition and none required hospitalisation. Their COVID-19 rapid antigen test results were negative.

     The CHP has provided preventive advice against URTI to the kindergarten-cum-child care centre and the kindergarten, such as advising the schools to arrange cleaning and disinfection, to open windows where appropriate for better ventilation and to separate affected students from other students, etc. The schools have been placed under medical surveillance.

     The CHP has recorded an increasing number of URTI outbreaks in the past few days. A total of 23 institutional URTI outbreaks affecting 165 persons were recorded in the past week (February 14 to 20), compared to seven URTI outbreaks affecting 79 persons recorded in the previous week (February 7 to 13). The majority of the outbreaks reported in the past week occurred in kindergartens or child care centres (65 per cent), while around one-fourth of the outbreaks involved cases with specimens that tested positive for RSV.

     The CHP issued letters to schools today 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. Students and staff with fever or respiratory symptoms should not attend school. They should wear a mask and consult doctors promptly.

     The public should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene against influenza and other respiratory illnesses and note the following:
  • 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 consult a doctor promptly if they develop symptoms of respiratory tract infection.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:15