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Overview of tuberculosis in Hong Kong educational institutions in second half of 2022
     ​The Tuberculosis and Chest Service (TB&CS) of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) announced today (February 28) the tuberculosis (TB) notification in educational institutions in the second half of 2022. The CHP urges the public, including school management, students and parents to maintain personal and environmental hygiene at all times to prevent TB infections.

     ​The DH received 1 666 notifications of TB cases (provisional figure) from July to December 2022, of which 70 cases were aged 3 to 24 (usual school age), accounting for 4.2 per cent of the total notified cases in the same period. The corresponding proportion of TB cases for the above age group in the second half of 2020 and 2021 were 4.34 per cent and 4.32 per cent respectively.

     ​For TB in the school setting in Hong Kong, there was one cluster involving two students from July to December 2022. The data of the cluster has been uploaded to the TB&CS statistics webpage.

     ​"Despite a marked and consistent decrease in the notification rate in Hong Kong in the past few decades, TB is still an important infectious disease around the globe. Moreover, clustering of TB cases in educational institutions occurs from time to time. The TB&CS has all along promoted awareness of TB and its prevention in schools, the community and the healthcare sector so as to facilitate early identification, diagnosis and treatment of TB, in order to achieve the goal of eliminating TB," a spokesman for the DH said.

     ​The spokesman explained that TB is an airborne disease. When a TB patient coughs or sneezes, small droplets containing the tubercle bacilli are generated and spread in the air. If another person breathes in these small airborne droplets, he or she may be infected with the germ. Prolonged exposure, however, is usually the most important condition for the disease to be effectively transmitted.

     ​Early identification of TB cases and prompt initiation of anti-TB treatment remain the mainstay of TB control. The TB&CS also conducts contact investigation for the close contacts of the index case where necessary. The TB&CS has also prepared guidelines on handling TB cases in the school setting for reference by schools. For more information, please refer to the guidelines available at www.info.gov.hk/tb_chest/en/contents/Guidelines_School.htm.

     ​Members of the public should maintain continued vigilance against TB and adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, avoid smoking and alcohol, and have suitable exercise and adequate rest. If symptoms develop, such as persistent cough, blood in sputum, weight loss, fever and night sweating, they should seek prompt medical advice. If diagnosed as having TB, a patient should strengthen respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, and receive TB treatment under supervision. For more TB-related information, services and figures, the public may also visit the website of the TB&CS or call the telephone hotline (2572 6024).
Ends/Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:30
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