The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) received notification from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) today (December 19) of a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 67-year-old man.
The patient, with underlying medical condition, presented with cough and runny nose since December 14. He consulted a private doctor today and was subsequently transferred to PMH for further management under isolation.
Initial investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient arrived in Hong Kong from Qatar alone on December 17. He had no contact with animals nor patients in Qatar. He is currently in stable condition.
The patient's respiratory specimens will be taken for preliminary laboratory tests by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP.
Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism at public and private hospitals, with practising doctors and at the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
"No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.
"We would like to reassure the public that the Government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information on cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Whenever there is a suspected case, particularly involving patients with travel history to the Middle East, the CHP will release information to the public as soon as possible," the spokesman said.
Healthcare workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and to adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, healthcare workers and visitors.
Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be obtained for diagnosis when possible. A majority of patients diagnosed and reported to date have had respiratory disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea has been commonly reported and severe complications include renal failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome with shock. Doctors are reminded that severely immunocompromised patients might present with atypical signs and symptoms.
Travellers should avoid contact with animals, poultry or sick people during travel and should seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell. They should also wash hands regularly before and after touching animals when visiting a farm or a barn.
As a general precautionary measure, they should also adhere to food safety and environmental hygiene practices such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables, unless they have been peeled, and unsafe water. Those returning from the Middle East with respiratory symptoms are advised to wear face masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors.
Relevant health advice can be found under "Current Travel Health News" on the website of the DH's Travel Health Service (www.travelhealth.gov.hk/english/outbreaknews/outbreaknews.html).
Members of the public are also reminded to take heed of personal hygiene:
* Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
* Wash hands before eating or handling food;
* Wash hands after using the toilet;
* Wash hands after sneezing or coughing and cleaning the nose; and
* Avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry.
The public may visit the CHP's website for more information on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/26511.html) and personal hygiene (www.chp.gov.hk/en/content/9/460/19899.html).
Ends/Thursday, December 19, 2013