SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection monitors Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection said on Thursday that it is closely monitoring three cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The three cases were confirmed to the World Health Organization, which is also monitoring the illness.


The patient in the United Arab Emirates is a 68-year-old man who became sick on March 1 and was admitted to the hospital on March 3. He is in stable condition. Investigation showed that he has underlying medical conditions, no travel history and was in daily contact with animals.


In Saudi Arabia, one patient is a man 51 years of age with underlying medical conditions. He became sick on Feb. 28 and was admitted to the hospital on March 2. Investigation showed he was exposed to animals.


The second case in Saudi Arabia was a 55-year-old man who also had underlying medical conditions. He became sick on Feb. 17 and was admitted to the hospital on Feb 25. He died on March 3.


WHO previously reported this patient to be a woman and issued a correction.


"The Centre for Health Protection of the (Department of Health) will seek more information on the cases from the WHO and the relevant health authorities," a DH spokesman said. "The CHP will stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the WHO and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments of this disease."


The total number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is 189, including 82 deaths.


"No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman said. "We would like to reassure the public that the government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information on cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Whenever there is a suspected case, particularly involving patients with travel history to the Middle East, the CHP will release information to the public as soon as possible."


The respiratory illness can be difficult to diagnose due to mild symptoms or atypical illness. Travelers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections also should be tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.