H5N1 virus

Efforts stepped up following death

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am


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The Hong Kong government has stepped up efforts to guard against bird flu after the death of a woman with H5N1 in Shanwei , Guangdong, yesterday.

Thomas Tsang Ho-fai, controller of the Health Department's Centre for Health Protection, said that for the next four weeks public hospitals would test patients with flu-like symptoms of unknown origin who had visited Guangdong in the past six months.

'We will also enhance temperature screening at [border] checkpoints and inform our health-care colleagues to remind them to report any suspected cases to us,' Dr Tsang said.

He noted there had been no sign the disease could spread from one person to another.

'Looking back over the past few months, we have had a case in Hunan and another in Guangxi ,' Dr Tsang said.

'The locations are getting closer to Hong Kong in geographical terms. But this is not something that is unexpected, as human cases occur more frequently in winter.'

Thomas Sit Hon-chung, an assistant director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said a registered chicken farm 50km from Shanwei supplied live chickens to Hong Kong but had not been affected by the bird flu virus.

He said the Hong Kong government:

Had asked the Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Department to step up checks on poultry farms supplying Hong Kong;

Would send vets to check the farms, step up inspection of local poultry farms and live poultry for sale in wholesale markets, and clean wet markets more thoroughly; and

Step up border checks for smuggled poultry.