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10 January 2014
Four additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guangdong and Zhejiang  

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 10) closely monitoring two additional cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guangdong and two other cases in Zhejiang upon notification by the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province and verification with the National Health and Family Planning Commission respectively.

     The first case in Guangdong involves a 42-year-old female poultry worker living in Foshan. She had onset of symptoms on January 5. She sought medical attention from a local hospital on January 8 and was admitted for treatment on the following day. Her specimen tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province today. Twenty close contacts of the patient have been put under medical surveillance by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province. No abnormalities have been found among her close contacts so far.

     The second case in Guangdong involves a 59-year-old woman also living in Foshan. She had developed symptoms on December 29, 2013. She was admitted to a local hospital on January 2, 2014. Her specimen tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province today. She had no recent history of contact with poultry. Five close contacts of the patient have been put under medical surveillance by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province. No abnormalities have been found among her close contacts so far.

     The two cases in Zhejiang involve a male patient aged 30 and a female patient aged 79 whose specimens both tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the relevant health authority of Zhejiang Province yesterday (January 9). They are receiving treatment in hospital and are in critical condition.

     To date, a total of 156 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been confirmed on the Mainland. They are in Zhejiang (55 cases), Shanghai (34 cases), Jiangsu (29 cases), Guangdong (12 cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Anhui (four cases), Henan (four cases), Beijing (two cases), Hunan (two cases), Shandong (two cases) and Hebei (one case).

     The CHP will follow up with the Mainland health authorities for more case details.

     "Locally, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education against avian influenza are ongoing. We will remain vigilant and maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant health authorities. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations," a spokesman for the DH said.

     "All border control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices will also be arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman added.

     Regarding health education for travellers, distribution of pamphlets, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspections and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are all proceeding.

     "Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces with fever or respiratory symptoms, should immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas and provinces," the spokesman advised.

     Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:

* Do not visit live poultry markets. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* 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 (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear masks 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 website (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf) for more information on avian influenza-affected areas and provinces.

Ends/Friday, January 10, 2014

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