13 Sep 2013

Hong Kong, Patient with respiratory symptoms and travel history tests negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (September 13 2013)

[Source: Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong PRC SAR, full page: (LINK).]

Patient with respiratory symptoms and travel history tests negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

A spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (September 13) provided an update on a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 44-year-old woman whose respiratory specimen tested negative for the virus.

The patient, who travelled to Tunisia from August 31 to September 10, during which she participated in a camel ride, presented with sore throat and running nose on September 11. She was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital for isolation and management and is currently in stable condition.

Preliminary laboratory testing on the patient's nasopharyngeal aspirate by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

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 travel 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 doctors.

Pilgrims visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 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 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 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/Friday, September 13, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:43
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