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H7N9 virus

Hongkonger in hospital tests positive for H7N9 in possible second imported case of bird flu this winter

70-year-old man who came across live poultry on mainland two weeks ago now in stable condition

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 10:27am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 10:45am

Hong Kong health officials are looking into the source of a newly confirmed human case of bird flu, according to a statement released after midnight on Friday.

The Centre for Health Protection said it was unsure whether the source of the infection was local or imported, prompting a call for Hongkongers to maintain “strict” personal, food and environmental hygiene at home and abroad.

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The investigation began as health authorities announced a 75-year-old man had died in Hong Kong in the first imported case of bird flu this winter.

In the new case, a 70-year-old Hongkonger was admitted to United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong on Tuesday with a fever, a cough with mucus, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhoea. A day later he was transferred to the isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung.

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Lab tests confirmed the patient, who had an underlying illness, was positive for H7N9. He is currently in stable condition.

The patient travelled over the border to Shenzhen and Zhongshan in Guangdong province on December 13 and returned to Hong Kong via Lo Wu on December 16. He claimed that in Zhongshan he came across stalls selling live poultry.

He also recalled that on December 22 he bought a chilled chicken from a shop near a wet market in Kwun Tong but that no live poultry was sold in the shop and he did not enter the market.

A centre spokesman said the case would be reported to the World Health Organisation as well as national, Guangdong provincial and Macau health authorities. He added the centre was communicating with mainland officials to ascertain the patient’s exposure and movements on the mainland.

“Our epidemiological investigations are ongoing,” the spokesman said. “Since the patient had purchased a chilled chicken near a wet market in Kwun Tong, as a precautionary measure, we are working closely with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to assess and investigate the case.”