Filipinos in HK warned vs bird flu

Paterno Esmaquel II
And Indonesian has been infected, 17 others are being quarantined. The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong issues health advisory on how Filipinos can avoid getting or spreading the virus

DEADLY FLU. In this file picture taken on April 11, 2013 officials test poultry at the border with mainland China in Hong Kong as part of measures against the spread of the deadly H7N9 bird flu. File photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday, December 3, warned its nationals against bird flu after Hong Kong confirmed its first human case of the deadly virus.

Ugaliing parating maghugas ng kamay lalo na pagkagaling sa banyo, ospital, o tahanan ng mga inaalagaan; bago kumain, pagkatapos umubo o bumahin; at kapag humawak sa mga nabahiran ng bodily fluids, mga pampublikong kagamitan, o mga hayop,” the Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong said.

(Make it a habit to wash your hands especially after going to the bathroom, the hospital, or the house of the wards; before eating; after coughing or sneezing; and after making contact with anything contaminated with body fluids, public facilities, or animals.)

The consulate also recommended the following measures: 

  • Wash hands thoroughly using liquid soap for at least 20 seconds.

  • Dry hands afterwards using a clean cloth or paper towel, or a hand dryer.

  • Avoid touching a faucet using clean hands.

  • Rub hands using alcohol with 70-80% concentration for at least 20 seconds, as an alternative to washing hands – that is, as long as the hands aren’t soiled.

  • Avoid touching the mouth, nose, and eyes.

  • Cover the nose and mouth with a clean handkerchief or tissue when sneezing or coughing.

  • Avoid spitting; if unavoidable, cover the excreted fluids with tissue and throw in a covered garbage can.

  • Wear a surgical mask if unavoidable to go to a cramped place with poor ventilation, when going to hospitals or clinics, or when nursing a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness.

  • Avoid going to school or work if influenza symptoms persist.

The consulate advised Filipinos in Hong Kong to visit the website of the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection at Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection website for additional information.

Spreading beyond China

On Monday, December 2, Hong Kong confirmed its first human case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu, according to a report, in the latest sign of the virus spreading beyond mainland China. (READ: Hong Kong confirms first human case of H7N9 bird flu – report)

A 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper with a history of traveling to the mainland city of Shenzhen and coming into contact with live poultry has been infected and is in critical condition, Health Secretary Ko Wing-man said, according to the broadcaster RTHK.

The patient was admitted to hospital on November 27 after developing a cough and shortness of breath. She was transferred to intensive care at the city’s Queen Mary Hospital last Friday, the report added.

Hong Kong said it will quarantine at least 17 people after this case. 

In all, 137 human cases of H7N9 have been reported in mainland China since February with 45 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The infection comes 10 years after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak swept through Hong Kong, killing 299 people and infecting around 1,800.

Avian flu viruses have been around for a very long time in wild birds. They do not generally cause disease in humans, though in rare cases they mutate and jump species.

A report by researchers published in The Lancet medical journal in October said closing live poultry markets, though a huge economic setback, is a sure-fire way of curbing H7N9. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.