Three Macau residents under quarantine in Hong Kong

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Issue 690, Page 1 & 2
Word count: 974
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Three Macau residents who stayed at the same Metropark Hotel Wanchai as the Mexican Influenza A (H1N1) patient in Hong Kong are being quarantined for seven days in an isolation camp.

The three women show no flu symptoms, Macau Health Bureau (SSM) director Lei Chin Ion announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, the SSM confirmed that a 45-year-old Macau SAR Passport holder was on the same flight AM098 from Mexico City to Shanghai on April 29 as the sick Mexican man, who is currently in a stable condition in Hong Kong.

The 45-year-old Macau resident has travelled to Guangdong Province from Shanghai and the Beijing authorities are trying to contact him for health observation.

In addition, a 25-year-old Macau woman who returned from California on May 1 went to the Kiang Wu Hospital with flu symptoms but no fever yesterday morning.

She was tested negative for Influenza A (H1N1) infection and discharged from the hospital in the evening.

According to Lei Chin Ion, the Macau government advises outbound residents, if suffer from flu symptoms, to receive treatments or even quarantine there and not to return to Macau as yet.

Their medical expenses will be covered by the SAR government, Lei said.

In face of the first confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) case in Hong Kong, the SSM director predicted that Macau is “likely” to follow due to international travels and advancement of transportation.

However, despite the SSM is committed to try its best to identify potential Influenza A (H1N1) patients at various border checkpoints, Lei admitted that the health monitoring measures implemented cannot 100 percent cut off the new virus strain from entering the SAR.

“It is because people may still in the incubation period while symptoms have not yet appeared. But with the health declaration measure in place, we can at least know how to trace the visitors in Macau,” Lei said.

All visitors who come to Macau via the Macau International Airport, the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, the Border Gate entry point and the Pac On Ferry Terminal have been required to fill in health declaration forms since yesterday.

Information such as phone numbers, address in Macau, health conditions (whether or not having cough, fever or sore throat) and trips made in the past two weeks has to be filled in.

The SSM stresses that there is “no need to panic”, and calls on the public to be aware of personal and environmental hygiene.

“To wash hands more frequently and don’t touch your eyes, ears, mouths and noses before washing your hands as the respiratory tract is the site for Influenza A (H1N1) infections,” Lei said.

“And do not believe in rumours or news that have not been confirmed,” he added.

In addition, the health officials urges both residents and tourists, especially those who travel from countries or regions with either community-level outbreaks (Mexico or the US) or reports of confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) cases, to consult a doctor immediately and wear face masks when flu symptoms appear.

Although Hong Kong has already raised the flu alert level to the highest of “emergency” yesterday, the SSM director said Macau will remain on level 4 on a six-level scale, as Macau is far away from Mexico and the US where community-level outbreaks have occurred.

“But if such outbreaks also appear in neighbouring regions of Macau, we will raise the alert level accordingly,” he added.

“Community-level outbreaks”, Lei said, means that at least 250 new infection cases are being found consistently within a short period of time inside one region.

According to the Beijing health authorities’ report, there was a 45-year-old Macau SAR Passport holder on the same flight from Mexico to Shanghai as the Mexican Influenza A (H1N1) patient who fell ill on May 1 in Hong Kong.

Lei said the man did not travel to either Hong Kong or Macau before leaving Shanghai to Guangdong Province.

“We are trying to contact him and will closely follow the case,” Lei said.

Meanwhile, on the April 30 China Eastern flight MU505 from Shanghai to Hong Kong, no Macau SAR or Portuguese Passport holder was reported sitting either in the three rows in front or three rows behind the sick Mexican tourist.

The SSM director also said the Hong Kong authorities confirmed that three Macau women who checked into the Metropark Hotel Wanchai on May 1 have agreed to being quarantined for seven days in the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung.

“We will keep contacts with them and believe that they will return to Macau after the quarantine period,” he added.

On the other hand, SSM deputy director and Conde de São Januário Hospital (CHCSJ) president Chan Wai Sin said that no report of “suspected” or “confirmed case” of Influenza A (H1N1) infection was received as of yesterday evening.

The 25-year-old Macau woman who came back from California and entered Macau via the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal on May 1 was transferred to the CHCSJ yesterday morning for diagnosis after flu symptoms were experienced.

She was cleared of Influenza A (H1N1) infection after several tests were conducted, Chan said.

According to SSM Public Health Laboratory director Ip Peng Kei, Macau will “very soon” have the technique to instantly confirm an Influenza A (H1N1) case without needing to send suspected cases samples to Hong Kong.

Ip said the SSM has already obtained the reagent formulas from Hong Kong and will place an order for the test substances shortly.

The CHCSJ statistics showed that 164 children and 58 adults with respiratory symptoms sought for medical consultations yesterday.

In addition, the medical kiosks at the Border Gate entry point and the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal respectively checked 124,732 and 33,824 people’s body temperature yesterday.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Chui Sai On, will at 9.30 am tomorrow inspect the influenza precaution measures set up at the Kiang Wu Hospital.

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