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Friday, August 26, 2016, 14:57

Zika virus: Rio returnees to undergo test


Zika virus: Rio returnees to undergo test

HONG KONG – Tests for evidence of the Zika virus will be carried out on all athletes and visitors returning from the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The tests will be processed by the research staff at the University of Hong Kong, who intends to go to Hong Kong Sports Institute to gather their blood samples.

Local anxieties over the virus were raised Thursday, after the city recorded its first case of Zika infection, found in a foreign national, returning from the Caribbean.

The 38-year-old woman was put in quarantine at United Christian Hospital, while local authorities carried out mosquito spraying near her residence in LOHAS Park in Tseung Kwan O, and her work place in Central.

Returning athletes have been asked to make appointments on their own to have their blood tested at Queen Mary Hospital.

Jasper Chan Fuj-woo, clinical assistant professor in microbiology at HKU, said if there have been more infections, it is critical that they be confirmed over the next few days to determine whether there is a high risk of widespread outbreak.

Zika virus: Rio returnees to undergo test
Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, is the main carrier of the Zika virus. (Photo/Associated Press)

It is also important to know whether the infected female has been stung by mosquitoes after she returned in Hong Kong, added Chan.

Chan said arrangements for taking blood tests for athletes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute or elsewhere will soon be decided.

Zika infections may be limited to Zika fever – a relatively mild infection that could go undetected, but is capable of being passed to the fetus of a pregnant woman. That would post the risk of infection to the fetus, leading to the possibility of microcephaly or severe brain malformations.

Resty Noveno, 41, a pastor living in LOHAS Park for six years, said his family felt scary anxious about the local case of Zika infection. He said his family has taken preventive measures such as wearing long-sleeve shirts and using mosquito sprays.

Kwan Ng Shiu-fan, 65, who accompanied her grandson to a kindergarten nearby, said she is not worried and is confident the government can control the problem.

A notice reminding the residents not to panic was posted at every residence in LOHAS Park. Property management is also handling preventive measures at the residences.

Mosquito-killing oils were sprayed on streets and construction sites in the area. There are several construction sites in the immediate vicinity covering 33-hectare area. The likelihood that there are pools of standing water, could mean that there are many mosquitoes in the area.

The city's health authority will also engage in inter-departmental operation to provide health protection advises to the mainland Olympians delegation that will visit Hong Kong over the weekend, including preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites and what-to-dos after infection.

It will also continue body temperature test in all checkpoints.

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