Visitor from PH tests positive for measles in HK

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Hong Kong International Airport


The HK Center the Health Protection (CHP) is investigating the case of a 17-year-old visitor from the Philippines who tested positive for measles after he arrived here in HK on March 23.

This developed as a ranking Philippine Consulate General (PCG) official said it has not received any formal communication from the HK government saying that vaccination against measles was now a legal requirement for overseas Filipino workers who want to work here in Hong Kong.

“We have not received that. What we received was a request from the Department of Health in February to disseminate general information on measles,” said Consul Paul Saret, head of the PCG-Assistance to Nationals Section.

“And we did post it (advisory) on our Facebook page on Feb. 21,” he added.

In the advisory, the HK Department of Health (DH) said all foreign domestic workers who are “non-immune” to measles should vaccinated “preferably before they arrive in Hong Kong.”

“If this is not possible, they can consult a doctor after they have arrived in Hong Kong,” the DH said.

“Employment agencies can consider adding the assessment of immune status against measles or MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) for FDH as additional items in the pre-employment medical check-up package,” it added.

On March 4 and March 28, the CHP also wrote employment agencies “advising” them to have FDHs vaccinated before they come to Hong Kong.

“You are advised to request FDH to produce documented evidence of immunity against measles or proof of receipt of two doses of (MMR vaccine),” said the CHP letter on March 28.

However, the PCG had yet to receive formal communication from the Labour Department or the Immigration Department that the MMR vaccine was mandatory of OFWs.

Saret said he and Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre would meet to determine what steps to take in the wake of the CHP letters to employment agencies.

He added that the PCG had also yet to receive a report on the 17-year-old tourist from the Philippines who tested positive for measles.

The CHP said the 17-year-old man with good past health developed fever and cough on March 24 and rash on March 25.

“He attended the Out-patient Department of St Teresa’s Hospital on March 26 and was referred to Kwong Wah Hospital for admission and treatment on the same day,” the CHP said in a statement.

“His respiratory specimen tested positive for measles virus. He is in a stable condition,” it added.

Once it learned of the case, the CHP immediately conducted epidemiological investigations and conducted relevant contact tracing.

Initial investigations revealed that no contact has shown measles-related symptoms so far.

The tourist arrived in Hong Kong at around 2:45 p.m. on March 23 onboard Cathay Pacific flight CX906 from Manila.

He stayed on the 7th floor of the Metropark Hotel in Mong Kok from March 23 to March 26. Then on March 26, he was at the outpatient department of St. Teresa’s Hospital from 3:03 a.m. to 3:24 a.m.

“Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by the measles virus. It can be transmitted by airborne droplets spread or direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons, and, less commonly, by articles soiled with nose and throat secretions,” a government spokesman said.

He said a patient can pass the disease to other persons from four days before to four days after the appearance of skin rash.

“The incubation period of measles ranges from seven days to up to 21 days. Contacts who are not immune to measles may develop relevant symptoms, such as fever, skin rash, cough, runny nose and red eyes, in the incubation period,” the spokesman said.

“They should observe if they develop such symptoms in the period. If symptoms arise, they should wear surgical masks, stop going to work or school and avoid going to crowded places. They should avoid contact with non-immune persons, especially persons with weakened immunity, pregnant women and children aged below one,” he said.

“They should also report their symptoms and prior travel history to healthcare workers so that appropriate infection control measures can be implemented at healthcare facilities to prevent any potential spread,” he added.

As of March 27, the CHP had monitored 30 measles cases, including four which involved foreign domestic workers. The government had also vaccinated many employees at the Hong Kong International Airport against measles after a measles outbreak there.