30 Aug 2013

Hong Kong, Two additional overseas cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome closely monitored by DH (August 30 2013)

[Source: Department of Health, Hong Kong PRC SAR, full page: (LINK).]

Two additional overseas cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome closely monitored by DH

The Department of Health (DH) is today (August 30) closely monitoring two additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Qatar.

According to the WHO, the first patient is a man aged 59 with an underlying illness who is currently hospitalised in stable condition. Preliminary epidemiological investigations revealed that he had travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and returned to Qatar on August 15 when he became ill.

The other patient is a 29-year-old man with an underlying medical condition who had no recent travel history outside Qatar.

The WHO was informed that the 138 health-care worker, family and community contacts of the duo screened in Qatar so far all tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

This brings the latest global number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome to 104, including 49 deaths.

"The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH will seek more information on the cases from the WHO and the relevant health authority. The CHP will stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the WHO and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments of this disease," a DH spokesman remarked.

Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and 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 stressed.

"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.

Health-care workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, health-care 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. Doctors are reminded that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhoea, particularly in patients who are immunocompromised.

Travellers should avoid contact with animals, poultry or sick people during their journeys and seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell.

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 a doctor.

Pilgrims visiting the KSA are reminded that pre-existing major illnesses can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, during travel. Thus, pilgrims should consult a health-care provider before travelling to review the risk and assess whether making the pilgrimage is medically advisable.

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 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) or personal hygiene (www.chp.gov.hk/en/content/9/460/19899.html).

Ends/Friday, August 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 10:55
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