H7N9 avian flu

Bird flu threat has eased, says health chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 3:50pm

The government has lowered Hong Kong's influenza pandemic response level from "serious" to "alert" as the H7N9 bird flu outbreak has eased.

The serious level - second on a three-level scale of which the top rank is "emergency" - had been in place since December when the first human infection was confirmed in Hong Kong.

Since then, Hong Kong has had 10 H7N9 cases, all resulting from infection on the mainland.

"Since April 13 this year, Hong Kong has recorded no new cases. So … we decided to immediately adjust the response level from serious to alert," Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday.

The H7N9 epidemic on the mainland has also eased, with infrequent reports of cases recently.

Ko said a facility being prepared in Ta Kwu Ling as a temporary quarantine site for local poultry would be ready next week, but the exact date for mainland live poultry imports to resume had yet to be announced by mainland authorities.

Live imports from the mainland have been suspended since January, when a sample tested positive for H7N9, causing the Cheung Sha Wan wholesale market to be closed for disinfection, affecting both mainland and local birds. If this happens again, local live poultry will be sent to the Ta Kwu Ling facility to minimise disruption in the trade.

The government also launched a preparedness plan yesterday for the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers). The response level is at "alert".

So far, 684 Mers cases globally have been reported to the World Health Organisation, including 204 deaths.