Hong Kong’s CHP has issued another lengthy update this morning (late evening, Dec 8th their time) on their ongoing epidemiological investigation into the second H7N9 case in that city in a week.
While no new H7N9 infections (or other major revelations) are to be found in this announcement, it does present us with a progress report on the investigation, and shows just how willing Hong Kong’s public health agencies are to provide updates – even late on a Sunday evening.
A commendable policy that one can only hope rubs off on some of the other, less forthcoming, public health agencies around the world.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:07
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 8) provided an update on the second confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.
"The epidemiological investigation, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education are proceeding," a spokesman for the DH remarked.
The 80-year-old male patient lives in Fu Yong Xin He District in Shenzhen. As of 4pm today, no additional close contacts have been identified. The number of close contacts remains at 19 while there are over 140 other contacts. Details are as follows:
(A) The 19 close contacts remain under quarantine for 10 days since their last contact with the patient. Their specimens all tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP. They were prescribed with the antiviral Tamiflu prophylaxis. During isolation, if their health conditions change, further testing and surveillance will be conducted. They include:
1. Thirteen patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient in Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH). One of them has newly developed fever and another specimen collected from the patient today tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus;
2. His five family members; and
3. The taxi driver who had taken the patient and his family members from Shenzhen Bay Port Border Control Point (SBP BCP) to TMH on December 3.
(B) Over 140 other contacts, including other relatives of the patient, health-care workers (HCWs) of TMH and the ambulance service, relevant hospital visitors as well as an immigration control officer at SBP BCP, have been put under medical surveillance and offered Tamiflu prophylaxis. Among them, one HCW of TMH newly developed non-specific symptoms whose specimen collected today has been tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.
Regarding the first confirmed case affecting the 36-year-old female patient, as of 4pm today, no additional close contacts of this case have been identified. The number of close contacts remains at 17 while there are now 230 other contacts under medical surveillance. Of the 17 close contacts, 11 have completed quarantine and will continue to be put under medical surveillance for 10 more days. The remaining six close contacts remain under quarantine for 10 days since their last contact with the patient. During isolation, if their health conditions change, further testing and surveillance will be conducted.
The Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has been converted as quarantine centre. Currently, seven asymptomatic close contacts of the second case are under quarantine in the centre.
The epidemiological investigation into the two cases by the CHP, including contact tracing and tracing the source of infection, is ongoing.
Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is under way. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments and obtain timely and accurate information. Local surveillance activities will be modified according to the WHO's recommendations.
"All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place at BCPs for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. The DH has liaised with the Auxiliary Medical Service and the Civil Aid Service to deploy additional manpower at BCPs to conduct random temperature checks using handheld devices. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman said.
Regarding health education for travellers at BCPs, the distribution of health education pamphlets, display of posters on avian influenza A(H7N9) in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and the provision of regular updates to travel industries via meetings and correspondence have all been escalated. The DH will keep a close eye on the latest developments and adopt corresponding port health measures.
"We have enhanced our publicity and health education on the prevention of avian influenza. The CHP has also sent letters to government departments and related organisations to reinforce our health advice on the prevention of avian influenza," the spokesman added.
The CHP hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries. As of 4pm today, 72 calls had been received.
"Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas and provinces, with fever or respiratory symptoms are reminded to immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Health-care professionals should also pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with birds, poultry or their droppings in affected areas and provinces," the spokesman advised.
The spokesman also urged travellers not to visit live poultry markets in the affected areas and provinces and avoid direct contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.
Members of the public should remain vigilant and are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice against avian influenza:
- 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 such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs; or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
- Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
- Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
- Wear a mask when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.