Macau at higher risk of H1N1 outbreak

Monday, June 29, 2009
Issue 747, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 727
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau yesterday reported the second locally infected H1N1 influenza case with the source of infection being unknown this time.

Meanwhile, the Influenza Emergency Coordination Centre also announced one more imported case of Influenza A (H1N1) on a five-year-old local boy who had visited the Philippines before the symptoms developed.

The total number of local and imported H1N1 cases had been taken to 18 in Macau as of yesterday.

Health Bureau (SS) director Lei Chin Ion said with tourists from different countries coming in and out from Macau every day, the authority would not rule out the possibility of having “invisible flu virus carriers” who did not develop noticeable flu symptoms in the local community.

Lei also said that Macau was seemingly following the regular pattern of H1N1 flu transmission, of which imported cases were first reported and then locally infected cases with source being identified, and the next was having unknown source of local infections followed by a community outbreak eventually.

“Macau is at risk of a H1N1 influenza outbreak,” Lei added.

According to the announcement, the 17th laboratory-confirmed H1N1 patient was a five-year-old Macau resident who studied in Class K3F at the kindergarten campus of Chan Sui Ki Perpetual Help College.

He went with his parents to visit their relatives in the Philippines on June 12, and went to a local school from June 16 to 19, but the SS director said they did not know why the boy went to class there.

On June 22 the flu symptoms appeared and the boy was taken to a medical institution for treatment.

A day after the fever was gone on June 25, he flew back from Manila to Macau on Cebu Pacific Air Flight 5J-362 on seat No. 2B. He was wearing a face mask when on board the plane.

The five-year-old went back to the kindergarten for the graduation ceremony rehearsal in the morning of June 26, however at night the fever reappeared on him.

He was confirmed to be infected with H1N1 virus at the Conde de São Januário Hospital (CHCSJ) last Saturday and the case was defined as imported.

His parents and the aunt who came to Macau together with the family had been in close contact with the boy and thus have been put under home observation and given antiviral drugs for prevention.

In addition, the 34 children and a teacher who were present at the graduation ceremony rehearsal were requested to carry out self-health management and provided with antiviral drugs, as Lei said they only had been in contact with the boy for a few hours.

The Health Bureau is still trying to contact all the passengers sitting near the five-year-old on the Cebu Pacific Air jet.

On the other hand, the 18th laboratory-confirmed H1N1 patient was a 25-year-old Macau resident who worked at the Venetian casino. It was also the second locally infected case of Macau.

The SS director said the patient went to Hong Kong with his wife from June 15 to 16. However, he only developed flu symptoms on June 24 and thus he was believed to be infected in Macau.

On June 27 the man consulted the CHCSJ and his test result showed positive for H1N1 influenza.

He had put on a face mask and did not go to work ever since the symptoms appeared.

His wife however was tested negative for the virus and has been kept under observation at home.

According to CHCSJ director Chan Wai Sin, as of yesterday 12 confirmed H1N1 patients were receiving treatment in the hospital’s isolation ward.

Apart from the 4th and 8th patients were still suffering from fever and the 6th patient suffering from flu symptoms, Chan said the other patients were in “good condition”.

SS deputy director Cheang Seng Ip also said yesterday four Indians were under medical quarantine in the Hac Sa Youth Camp. One of them was expected to be released on July 1 while the other three on July 2.

There were at the same time 14 people under medical observation at home.

As the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau has already announced last week the suspension of summer classes and advised schools to hold graduation ceremonies only for senior classes, Lei said the risk of a school outbreak was significantly minimised.

Macau’s flu alert remained on level 6 code blue, with a “general” epidemic situation.

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