Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Ko Wing-man Interview On MERS Situation In Hong Kong

*** UPDATED ****

The HK Gov site has just posted:

Doctor negative for MERS
June 02, 2015
The Centre for Health Protection has confirmed a Kwong Wah Hospital doctor has tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome after returning from a medical exchange in Seoul at the end of May and falling ill. 
Three other suspected cases have also tested negative for MERS.

Secretary for Food & Health Dr Ko Wing-man urged medical staff not to visit South Korea for exchange activities, adding that Government officials have cancelled planned healthcare meetings in Seoul this month.

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We've a transcript of a press interview by Hong Kong’s SFH (Secretary of Food & Health), Dr. Ko Wing-man, on the MERS situation in Hong Kong, his concerns over the Korea's `lack of transparency', and a report that a doctor - recently returned from Seoul - is in isolation and being tested for the MERS virus (now reported to be negative).


Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after attending a public function today (June 2):
Secretary for Food and Health: I held a meeting with representatives from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority (HA) as well as Professor K Y Yuen from the University of Hong Kong this morning. I am particularly concerned about the situation in South Korea regarding the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Up to this moment, the number of infected persons has risen to over 20. Out of them, two fatal cases have been reported. Furthermore, other two of them apparently did not contract the illness from the first patient. That is to say there is at least suspicion of third tier infection. I am also concern about the lack of transparency of Korean authority. Up to this moment, we still cannot obtain information about the healthcare institutions involved. Based on the recommendations of CHP and HA at a meeting yesterday, we have decided to implement several additional measures (to prevent the import of MERS). Firstly, travellers arriving Hong Kong with fever or other respiratory symptoms will be asked to sign on the health assessment form at the immigration entry points. We will warn them that the information provided is very important for public health purposes and any persons who provide inaccurate information might be liable to prosecution.  Secondly, we have decided to advise all healthcare workers to suspend all medical exchange activities with South Korea, especially those in Seoul.              
Reporter: (about the doctor who earlier participated in medical exchange in South Korea)

Secretary for Food and Health: I was given the report about noon today that a doctor working at the Kwong Wah Hospital had earlier on participated in medical exchange activities in a medical institution in Seoul. A few days after he returned to Hong Kong, he reported to have respiratory symptoms. He is now admitted to hospital. We will conduct rapid test on the doctor. The result will be available in a few hours. As soon as we have the result, we will let you know.

Reporter: The number of MERS cases in South Korea is rising. Do you think there is a need to issue a travel alert for travellers?

Secretary for Food and Health: As I have just explained, the World Health Organization up to this particular moment has not issued any travel alert against South Korea. This, I believe, is because of the fact that whilst there is evidence of third tier transmission, there is as yet no evidence of sustained transmission in the community.
Reporter: South Korea authority is not being so forthcoming about releasing information about their medical centres. Do you think you would advise Hong Kong people to avoid travelling to South Korea? 
Secretary for Food and Health: No, I have just said clearly that I am advising Hong Kong people who are travelling to South Korea or Seoul to avoid going to any medical institutions. Up to this particular moment, the transmission of MERS in South Korea is confined to very close contact or in a healthcare setting.  

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