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Hong Kong Reports the Second Confirmed Human Case of H7N9 Influenza; Command Center Urges Traveling Citizens to Take Precautions and Calls on Doctors to Remain Alert

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2013-12-18
  • Last Updated:2017-02-03

The Central Epidemic Command Center for H7N9 Influenza stated that Hong Kong reported the second confirmed case of H7N9 influenza yesterday (December 6). Evaluation of the existing epidemiological data points to the origin of infection in Guangdong Province of China. Currently, the travel advice for Guangdong Province and Zhejiang Province of China is maintained at Level 2: Alert, while for other provinces and cities (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) it is Level 1: Watch. The Command Center reminded citizens planning to travel to the affected areas to keep good hygienic habits and avoid contact with poultry and birds. 

This new case is an 80-year-old male who lives in Shenzhen on a long-term basis. He visited Tuen Mun Hospital of Hong Kong on December 3 for treatment of chronic disease. Fever was shown on December 6, and nasopharyngeal swab showed positive result for H7N9 influenza virus. The patient is now under isolated treatment, and the condition is stable. Three family members who accompanied the patient at the time of hospitalization and other visiting family members did not show any symptoms at the moment, and other people in contact with the patient are still under investigation. To date, there are a total of 140 confirmed cases in the mainland China, which occurred in 10 provinces and 2 cities, and 47 deaths are known. Besides, two cases are recorded in Hong Kong, and both are initially believed to be infected in Guangdong. 

In Taiwan, “H7N9 influenza” has been listed as a Type 5 infectious disease since April 3, and a total of 454 cases have been reported to date; one of these is a confirmed imported case, while H7N9 infection is denied for 453 cases. From June 1 till now, border quarantine has found 2,305 travelers returning from epidemic-affected areas with infection symptoms, but H7N9 infection is denied for all. 

The Command Center pointed out that this new case was the second case reported in Hong Kong since the start of autumn. It is possible that the epidemic may be spreading southward, indicating the continued existence of H7N9 influenza virus, and the epidemic threat is not removed. People are advised to stay alert. In Taiwan, implementation of monitoring and quarantine measures against the mainland China is continued, and those who have a fever and travelled to mainland China within 14 days, particularly those with history of bird contact, will be sent to hospital for treatment with the help of the quarantine personnel. Also, doctors are reminded to report patients conforming to the H7N9 influenza definition to the health authority as soon as possible. In addition, in order to efficiently block the spread of H7N9 influenza, the Council of Agriculture has formulated the responding procedures and work instructions in case that H7N9 virus of the same origin as those in mainland China is detected in local poultry farms. The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture will also keep close watch on human and bird epidemic in Taiwan. 

The Command Center would like to remind citizens again not to come into contact with poultry and birds when traveling to the mainland China, particularly poultry remains. Chicken, duck and goose (including eggs) must be thoroughly cooked when they are consumed. Personal hygienic measures like washing hands should also be actually put into practice, to avoid infection. When returning to the country, travelers should inform the airline staff and quarantine personnel at the airport and harbor if they have a fever or influenza-like symptoms. If these symptoms are shown after they have returned, they should wear a mask and consult a doctor as soon as possible, informing the doctor of their travel history to facilitate the doctor to provide suitable medical service. 

For the latest information related to the epidemic and infectious diseases, please go to the “H7N9 Influenza” and “International travel information” pages on the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov.tw), or call the toll-free public reporting and care hotline 1922. Please call disease prevention hotline 0800-001922 instead if your phone cannot make a short-number call.