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Friday, September 9, 2016, 01:04

Public urged to step up mosquito control

By Willa Wu

HONG KONG – Under Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee on Thursday urged the public to cooperate with the government in intensifying community-based mosquito control. This is after three local dengue fever cases were confirmed by Wednesday.

The three local cases were all residents in Central.

When visiting SoHo in Central to monitor an anti-mosquito campaign, Chan noted that mosquito control was vital in preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. She warned the public not to underestimate the threat of an outbreak in Hong Kong.

The health under secretary said that the mosquito control work required the cooperation of the government, individuals and the community. She reminded the public to be vigilant about hygiene. People also needed to be vigilant about any water which might breed more mosquitoes.

Chan also appealed to the public to call the government hotline 1823 if they see large amounts of questionable-looking water.

Hong Kong is actively coping with the potential for mosquito-borne disease outbreak through intensifying community-based mosquito control work. It is also providing timely tests for suspected infected patients.

The Hospital Authority (HA) is providing two tests for diagnosing Zika virus – direct detection which tests the patient’s blood or urine during the acute phase (seven days after symptoms onset) is indicated for symptomatic patients. Antibody testing is suggested for pregnant patients who show no symptoms but have a history of being exposed to the virus.

HA’s Chief Infection Control Officer Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong said the tests would be run in laboratories under HA’s seven clusters and are estimated to open to the public in late September or early October.

He also noted that the initial target capacity is 100 tests per day per cluster.

Derrick Au Kit-sing, HA’s director of quality and safety, said antibody testing does a good job of ruling out non-infected pregnant women. This will prevent them from undergoing unnecessary following checkups such as ultra-sound tests which might influence their babies as well as put extra mental pressure on mothers-to-be.

Tsang described mosquito control as an “ultimate strategy” in preventing any outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

The clinics under the HA have so far received nine patients who came back from the Rio Olympics, with three of them being Hong Kong Olympic team athletes. None of them tested positive for the Zika virus.

The Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong conducted a study on Zika virus through running blood, urine and semen tests on people who came back from Rio.

Jasper Chan Fuk-woo, the department’s clinical assistant professor, said that so far no positive cases had been reported.

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