19 isolated after contact with man in Hong Kong's second bird flu case
At least one of those who came into contact with 80-year-old Shenzhen man was found to have mild respiratory symptoms, health chief says
Nineteen people who came into contact with Hong Kong's second H7N9 flu patient are being kept in isolation in a hospital and at a holiday camp.
They include 13 Tuen Mun Hospital patients who were being cared for in beds close to the 80-year-old man when he was initially admitted to hospital for diabetes and heart failure. Five of the man's relatives and the taxi driver who took him from the Shenzhen Bay border post to the hospital make up the rest of the group.
Seven of the 19 were yesterday moved from Princess Margaret Hospital to a quarantine centre set up at the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung. The rest remain in the hospital in Kwai Chung.
Health chief Dr Ko Wing-man said one or two of the 19 had mild symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.
He said experts believed some chickens in Shenzhen had been infected with the deadly virus.
Hong Kong authorities had provided information to their Shenzhen counterparts so they could try to trace the source of the virus, he added.
The man in the latest case lives in Shenzhen. He was in stable condition yesterday, while Indonesian domestic helper Tri Mawarti, 36, the first person in the city confirmed to have the flu strain, remains critically ill in intensive care in Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam.
Ko said Tri's condition had gradually improved, but doctors decided she should stay in the intensive care unit.
Ko said the 80-year-old patient had hearing problems and medical staff had trouble communicating with him.
"We're still looking into what he has done in Shenzhen. We heard he had eaten chicken, but it's unclear whether he came into direct contact with live poultry," he said.
Shenzhen's centre for disease control and prevention yesterday sent a team to collect samples from the Yonghe and Shuihetian markets in Baoan district, close to where the man lives.
Chickens were being sold as usual at the two markets, and neither had been subject to sterilisation. "The authorities did not make us stop selling chicken. We feel worried, but have to make a living," a chicken seller at the Yonghe wet market said.
A vendor at a Shekou wet market said: "The government should buy and take away all our chickens to test."
The man in the latest case had treatment for heart disease at the Fuyong People's Hospital between November 13 and 29. A nurse who took care of him said none of the staff had been asked to have a test or put in isolation.
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said it appeared clear that the virus had spread in Shenzhen, but that all evidence so far suggested it could not sustain effective human-to-human transmission.
Ho said all mainland live poultry imports should be halted.
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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.