The government has warned members of the public to be extra vigilant when travelling to the mainland after it was announced that the number of cases of avian influenza has increased significantly compared to previous years.
At an inter-departmental meeting yesterday, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said that the number of human cases of H7N9 in mainland China had risen to 357 since last November, much higher than in the same period last winter. “That shows that the situation is abnormal,” said Dr Ko.
He went on to say that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan had all reported cases this year that had been imported from Guangdong. “In view of the acute situation of the AI outbreak around the world and in neighbouring areas, the AI risk has likewise increased in Hong Kong… It is known that three patients of the four imported human cases of avian influenza A (H7N9) [in Hong Kong] since winter last year had history of exposure to live poultry or visited places with live poultry. This shows that the vigilance of Hong Kong people against AI should be heightened.”
In a statement on its website, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) outlined a number of measures being taken by the government to monitor and control the risk to the public, including the introduction of a new vaccine in local chicken farms, introduced last November, as well as additional briefings for doctors and public awareness campaigns.
Members of the public who need to travel to affected areas are advised to avoid visiting wet markets and farms and to consult a doctor immediately if symptoms develop.
For more information on the symptoms of avian influenza, visit the CHPs website.