Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Hong Kong Issues `Red' Travel Alert For Korea Over MERS











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Although the World Health Organization's stance on Korea's MERS outbreak reads - `WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions' - we've seen a number of countries openly discourage non-essential travel to the region.

 Hong Kong posted an informal travel alert yesterday (see Hong Kong Raises MERS Response Level To Serious, Issues Travel Alert), but today their Security Bureau made it official by issuing an Outbound Travel Alert.

Korea joins a short list of countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Nepal Pakistan & Syria) carrying enhanced travel warnings for Hong Kong residents.

The Food and Health Bureau advises residents to avoid non-essential travel to Korea, including leisure travel. Those already there should pay attention to announcements by local authorities and avoid unnecessary visit to healthcare facilities. Residents in Korea who need assistance may call the 24-hour hotline of the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) of the Immigration Department at (852)1868 or contact the Chinese Embassy in Republic of Korea at consular protection hotline: (82)10-97249110.
  • There has been an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Korea since late May 2015 with transmission mainly occurring in healthcare facilities. Travellers in Korea should avoid unnecessary visit to healthcare facilities. Travellers are also advised to take precautionary measures, wear a mask and observe hand hygiene when entering healthcare facilities and visiting overcrowded places.
  • [ current OTA issued on 9 June 2015, 12:00 ]

The Security Bureau offers offers the following  Middle East Respiratory Syndrome related information


  • The Department of Health (DH) advises the public to avoid unnecessary travel to Korea, in particular, those with chronic illnesses.

  • There has been an outbreak of MERS in Korea since late May 2015 with transmission mainly occurring in healthcare facilities. DH advises that travellers in Korea should avoid unnecessary visit to healthcare facilities. Travellers are also advised to take precautionary measures, wear a mask and observe hand hygiene when entering healthcare facilities and visiting overcrowded places in Korea.

  • Moreover, the affected areas of MERS include the Arabian Peninsula and its neighboring countries (including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Yemen). So far, over 95% of the confirmed cases were reported by Middle East countries. For the remaining cases, most of them either acquired the infection in the Middle East during travel or work, or through close contact with another patient who acquired the infection in Middle East. Hence, travellers in the Middle East should avoid going to farms, barns or markets with camels, and avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry. They should also avoid unnecessary visit to healthcare facilities.

  • DH strongly advises travel agents organising tours to the Middle East to abstain from arranging camel rides and activities involving direct contact with camels, which are a known risk factor for acquiring MERS.

  • As Ramadan will begin in mid-June 2015, pilgrims preparing to go to Saudi Arabia for Umrah should be vigilant against MERS.

  • The DH will stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the WHO and the health authorities overseas and of the Mainland to monitor the latest developments.

  • For the latest relevant information issued by DH, please see:

    http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/26511.html

  • For the latest relevant announcements by WHO, please see:

    http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/disease/coronavirus_infections/en/index.html
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