|Credit HK CHP|
With more than 7 million residents crammed into just 426 sq miles, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection takes infectious disease threats very seriously. As it has previously with both avian flu and MERS-CoV, the CHP has prepared and implemented a plan to deal with the Zika virus.
The 50-page PDF Response Plan may be downloaded from the CHP site, but at its core is a three level system representing the relative risk the Zika virus poses to Hong Kong's residents.
The Plan's three response levels – Alert, Serious and Emergency - reflect the current CHP risk assessment of the Zika virus. From the response plan, they are defined as:
Alert Response Level
10. Alert Response Level corresponds to a situation where the immediate health impact caused by the Zika virus infection on local population is low. Generally, it depicts a situation when there are human cases occurring in countries where there are possibilities of significant travel and trade with Hong Kong, while WHO is maintaining global alert for this disease; OR where there are imported case(s).
Serious Response Level
12. Serious Response Level corresponds to a situation where the risk of health impact caused by the Zika virus infection on local population in Hong Kong is moderate. Generally, it depicts a situation when there is a sporadic local case, or a single cluster of local cases in Hong Kong.
Emergency Response Level
14. Emergency Response Level corresponds to a situation where the risk of health impact caused by the Zika virus infection on local population in Hong Kong is high and imminent. Generally it depicts a situation where there is more than one cluster of local cases or widespread local transmission.
Today, in addition to unveiling the new plan, the CHP activated the Alert Response Level.
11 March 2016 Zika Virus Infection
The Alert Response Level under the Government's Preparedness and Response Plan for the Zika Virus Infection is activated
Zika virus infection is a mosquito-borne disease caused by Zika virus. The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever and skin rash, usually accompanied by conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain and general malaise.
The current major concern is the possible association with adverse pregnancy outcome (microcephaly) and neurological and autoimmune complications such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Zika virus is mainly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It can potentially be transmitted through blood transfusion. Zika virus has also been found in human semen and transmission by sexual contact has been confirmed.
For details on prevention of Zika virus infection, including those for pregnant women and women preparing for pregnancy and travellers returning from affected areas, please refer to the factsheet of Zika Virus Infection.
Pregnant women and women preparing for pregnancy should consider deferring their trip to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission. Travellers should seek medical advice before the trip and avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Travellers who return from affected areas and feel unwell e.g. having fever, should seek medical advice as soon as possible, and provide travel details to doctors.
For details on screening of blood donors to prevent Zika virus infection, please refer to Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service website. For further details, donors may enquire through hotline: 2710 1234.