Hospitals can cope with bird flu outbreak
Contingency plans at public hospitals to cope with a possible outbreak of human cases of H7N9 bird flu have been worked out, the public has been assured.
The plans cover procedures for isolating patients, dispensing medicine and deploying doctors and nurses. Private doctors or retired nursing staff might be called in to help at government hospitals if needed, according to Hospital Authority director Dr Cheung Wai-lun.
Authority chief executive Dr Leung Pak-yin also assured the public that there was enough medical supplies in stock.
The move came as the Centre for Health Protection yesterday reported another suspected human case of influenza A, or H7, bringing the total number of suspected human cases received by the centre since March 31 to nine. So far, no confirmed human case of H7N9 has been recorded in Hong Kong. The centre has received 19 cases that do not meet its reporting criteria.
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, of the University of Hong Kong's department of microbiology, who was among the city's team of experts visiting Shanghai earlier this month to meet mainland doctors about the outbreak there, said an imminent outbreak here seemed unlikely. "At the moment, there is no need to be overly worried," said Yuen, citing results of recent tests of 2,903 dead birds collected in Hong Kong between November 2010 and January this year, which showed that none of the birds had H7N9.
He also believed there was no cover-up on the mainland side, saying: "During our visit to Shanghai, the doctors there had a very open attitude and shared with us much of the clinical information they got."
Experts believe close contact with infected poultry, which got the virus from contact with wild birds, is believed to be the cause of human infection.
"We believe the virus is still mainly contained in the Yangtze River delta area. The migratory birds are flying north. But, when the migratory birds are flying south again in the winter, they might infect local poultry. And there may be problem," he said.
Earlier yesterday, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man told lawmakers that the government was organising large-scale activities - similar to those during the SARS epidemic 10 years ago - to stress the importance of environmental hygiene.
Click on each balloon for more information on individual patients infected with the avian flu virus: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with the H7N9 who have died; and pink, those with H1N1 avian flu virus.