Hong Kong Announces Strict Measures Against Swine Flu

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Apr. 27 – Once the epicenter of a SARS outbreak, Hong Kong,has announced that it would implement strict measures in response to the reported swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States.

According to the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 20 cases have been already been confirmed in New York, Ohio, California, Kansas and Texas.

The new policies may restrict air travel in the region as Hong Kong officials warned residents not to go to Mexico and called for the immediate detention of persons arriving in Hong Kong with a fever and symptoms of a respiratory illness and coming from a city with a confirmed outbreak in the past seven days.

Hong Kong serves as the region’s busiest airport hub for international travel and flights from the United States and Canada come in around the clock.

Since the outbreak of SARS six years ago, Hong Kong has been using infrared scanners to detect temperatures of visitors entering at airport and border crossings.

During a press conference yesterday, Dr. Thomas Tsang, the controller of the Hong Kong government’s Center for Health Protection, said that travelers who passed through a city with laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu and arrived in Hong Kong with a fever of 100.4 degrees and respiratory symptoms would be brought to a hospital for testing. He told the New York Times: “Until that test is negative, we won’t allow him out.”

In the next few days, the Hong Kong government will revise health regulations to make it mandatory for health professionals to inform the government of suspected cases of swine flu.

The SARs outbreak has made Hong Kong more prepared of the possibility of a flu pandemic through the upgrading its flu research labs and hospitals.