HEALTH
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H7N9 avian flu

Bird flu warnings ahead of 'golden week' holiday invasion

Safety advice handed to hotels and travel agents ahead of holiday invasion

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 10:17am

The travel industry in Hong Kong has boosted precautions against the deadly H7N9 bird flu in the run-up to the "golden week" national holiday as mainland and local experts warn of possible human-to-human transmission.

Five new cases were confirmed on the mainland yesterday - one in the central province of Henan , one in Shanghai, two in the eastern province of Zhejiang and one in its neighbouring province of Jiangsu , taking the total to 87.

Three suspected cases also emerged in Hong Kong last night, but tests were negative. There have been no cases in the city.

Guidelines have been issued to hotels and travel agencies reminding them to pay attention to the health of guests during the week-long mainland holiday, said Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung.

If there are individual cases of people falling ill, there are measures here … to provide the necessary assistance, including medical assistance, so that these cases will not spread
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung

"If there are individual cases of people falling ill, there are measures here … to provide the necessary assistance, including medical assistance, so that these cases will not spread," So said.

In the event of a suspected infection in a hotel, staff would remind guests to stay in their room and seek help by notifying the health department.

There will be extra staff at border checkpoints and officials, accompanied by health workers, will take the temperatures of travellers, said Ngai Sik-shui, chairman of the Immigration Service Officers Association.

So said that last year 340,000 mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong during the holiday.

Experts have warned of the possibility of the virus passing among humans after Shanghai reported two family cluster cases.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said last night: "The new virus may have the ability to spread in a similar manner to H5N1, which has limited human-to-human transmission."

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said there was no hard evidence for this, but added: "We have to gear up for every aspect to prevent [an outbreak] in Hong Kong."

The Centre of Health Protection said H5N1 may have limited ability to spread among people, but the major mode of transmission was from birds to humans.

Meanwhile, a 66-year-old man was discharged from hospital in Shanghai yesterday, becoming the first adult patient in the city to totally recover from the virus.

View H7N9 map in a larger map

Click on each balloon for more information on individual patients infected: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with H7N9 who have died; yellow, those who have fully recovered; and pink, those infected other types of the Influenza A virus, including H1N1.