A health chief admitted yesterday there was still room for improvement in cross-border notification of infectious diseases, but said Hong Kong authorities were in the hands of the central government. Centre for Health Protection controller Leung Pak-yin was speaking in the face of calls by lawmakers for improvements to give the city more time to prepare for any outbreak. The legislators said suspected cases should be made public instead of waiting for tests to confirm them. Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said information flow was often delayed, as time was wasted on waiting for laboratory results. 'We should be notified as soon as possible so that we can take precautions to protect Hong Kong people's health,' he told a meeting of the Legislative Council's health services panel. 'Infectious diseases might have been spread to the city by the time we are officially informed by the central government.' Independent legislator and unionist Lee Fung-ying said the problem might be worse when infectious diseases cases were first found in rural mainland areas. 'Information flow is even slower in villages, and it will take some time before a provincial government is informed by village leaders,' she said. But Dr Leung said it was up to the central government to decide whether information about suspected cases should be forwarded to Hong Kong. 'The mainland authorities will inform us once they spot any group infections or signs of a possible outbreak,' he said. 'But regarding suspected cases of infectious diseases on the mainland, the Ministry of Health will decide when such information should be released.' He admitted the information flow might be delayed, as it still took some time for the notification system between provinces and the central government to mature. 'There is room to further improve the notification mechanism with the mainland,' he said. 'We also closely monitor news about suspected or confirmed infectious diseases; whether the source is official or from the mass media.'