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Diarrhoea patients with travel history test negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

     A spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (July 16) provided an update on a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 28-year-old man.

     The CHP received notification from Kwong Wah Hospital (KWH) yesterday (July 15). The male patient, with good past health, developed diarrhoea and vomiting yesterday and attended KWH for treatment. The CHP received notification from the hospital again this morning that his 26-year-old wife also developed diarrhoea and abdominal pain last night. They were admitted to KWH for further management under isolation.

     The preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP on their respiratory and stool specimens both yielded negative results for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Both patients are in stable condition.

     The duo had travelled to Europe and Dubai from June 25 to July 12 and arrived in Hong Kong on July 13.

     Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

     "No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman stressed.

     "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 spokesman remarked.

     Health-care workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, health-care workers and visitors.

     Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be obtained for diagnosis when possible. Doctors are reminded that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhoea, particularly in patients who are immunocompromised.

     Travellers should avoid contact with animals, poultry or sick people during their journeys and seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell. As a general precautionary measure, they should also adhere to food safety and environmental hygiene such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables, unless they have been peeled, or unsafe water. Those returning from the Middle East with respiratory symptoms are advised to wear face masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors.

     Members of the public are reminded to take heed of personal hygiene:

* Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
* Wash hands before eating or handling food;
* Wash hands after using the toilet;
* Wash hands after sneezing or coughing and cleaning the nose; and
* Avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry.

     The public may visit the CHP's website for more information on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ( or personal hygiene (

Ends/Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:00


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