The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is closely monitoring, as of yesterday (February 11), two additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hunan and Zhejiang affecting two men aged 23 and 70 respectively according to the latest reports of the Mainland health authorities. Both are hospitalised for treatment.
As of yesterday, a total of 331 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been confirmed in the Mainland, including Zhejiang (132 cases), Guangdong (61 cases), Shanghai (41 cases), Jiangsu (40 cases), Fujian (20 cases), Hunan (ten cases), Anhui (six cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Beijing (four cases), Henan (four cases), Guangxi (three cases), Shandong (two cases), Guizhou (one case, imported from Zhejiang) and Hebei (one case).
"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 remarked.
"In view of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) confirmed in Hong Kong and multiple cases notified by the Mainland, the activity of the virus is expected to be higher in the winter season. Those planning to travel outside Hong Kong should maintain good personal, environmental and food hygiene at all times," the spokesman urged.
"All boundary 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 have also been 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 inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are all proceeding.
The spokesman advised travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces with fever or respiratory symptoms, to immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Health-care professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas and provinces.
Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:
* Do not visit live poultry markets and farms. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* Avoid entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with surfaces which might be contaminated by droppings of poultry or other animals;
* 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.
Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014