The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (December 6) investigating another confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a man aged 80.
The patient, with underlying medical condition, lives in Shenzhen. He was admitted to a hospital in Shenzhen for management of his chronic illness from November 13 to 29.
On December 3, he arrived in Hong Kong with his three family members via Shenzhen Bay Port Border Control Point (SBP BCP) and subsequently took a taxi there in the afternoon to the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) where he was admitted for further management of his chronic illness on the same day.
The patient had no fever upon admission. However, he developed fever this morning and was put under isolation immediately. His nasopharyngeal swab was tested positive for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP today.
The patient will be transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation. His current condition is stable.
Initial investigation by the CHP revealed that his family members who had either accompanied him to or visited him in TMH have remained asymptomatic.
"The Serious Response Level under the Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic has been activated while the CHP's epidemiological investigation and follow-up actions are currently in full swing," a CHP spokesman remarked.
The spokesman urged the taxi driver who had taken the male patient on wheelchair and his three family members comprising one man and two women at SBP BCP at about 2.15pm on December 3 and arrived in the AED of TMH at about 2.50pm to contact the CHP hotline (2125 1111) immediately.
Contact tracing for his family members in Hong Kong, patients in TMH who stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient as well as healthcare workers in TMH and relevant hospital visitors are under way. They will be put under medical surveillance.
This is the second confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.
The CHP will issue letters to doctors and hospitals to keep them abreast of the latest situation.
"The confirmed case has been notified to the World Health Organization, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macau," the spokesman said.
Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is under way. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments and obtain timely and accurate information. Local surveillance activities will be modified according to the WHO's recommendations.
"All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place at BCPs for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. The DH has liaised with the Auxiliary Medical Service and the Civil Aid Service to deploy additional manpower at BCPs to conduct random temperature checks using handheld devices. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman said.
Regarding health education for travellers at BCPs, the distribution of health education pamphlets, display of posters on avian influenza A(H7N9) in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and the provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence have all been escalated. The DH will keep a close eye on the latest developments and adopt corresponding port health measures.
"We have enhanced our publicity and health education on the prevention of avian influenza. The CHP has also sent letters to government departments and related organisations to reinforce our health advice on the prevention of avian influenza," the spokesman added.
The CHP hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries. As of 4pm today, 69 calls had been received.
Meanwhile, the CHP today verified with the NHFPC an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Zhejiang affecting a man aged 30. The case was confirmed on December 5 and the patient is currently receiving treatment in a hospital in Hangzhou.
"Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas with fever or respiratory symptoms, are reminded to immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to a doctor. Healthcare professionals should also pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with birds, poultry or their droppings in affected areas," the spokesman advised.
The spokesman also urged travellers not to visit live poultry markets in the affected areas and avoid direct contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.
Members of the public should remain vigilant and are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice against avian influenza:
* Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
* Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs; or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear a mask when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.
The public may visit the CHP's avian influenza page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) and its website (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf) for more information on avian influenza-affected areas.
Ends/Friday, December 6, 2013