Via the South China Morning Post: Hong Kong has 'highest level' of Ebola prevention control at airport, says health secretary.
Hong Kong has adopted the highest possible level of preventive measures at the border to block the fatal Ebola virus that has spread out of West Africa, the health minister says.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man did not see any need yet to keep travellers from infected countries from entering Hong Kong, as the World Health Organisation had not deemed it necessary.
"We have raised the preventive measures at the border to the highest possible level we can," Ko said yesterday on the sidelines of the sixth Global Conference of the Alliance for Healthy Cities in Tseung Kwan O.
"We have enhanced monitoring in different areas, apart from border control, and have also issued guidelines to medical frontline staff."
Since Monday last week, passengers flying in from Ebola-hit countries, or who have visited an affected area in the last 21 days, have had to fill in a health questionnaire upon arrival at Chek Lap Kok airport, Ko said. The airport also tightened temperature screenings, lowering the fever threshold to 37.5 degrees Celsius.
Dr Shin Young-soo, the WHO's regional director, said he was confident Hong Kong could contain Ebola effectively.
Medecins Sans Frontieres said that the city's policy of checking, rather than banning, arrivals from affected areas was in line with WHO guidance.
The city has also introduced protective gear and a monitoring system for hospital workers in case the disease arrives. Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung has been designated to handle Ebola patients and suspected cases.
Ko spoke days after Belgian Professor Peter Piot, one of the discoverers of the virus, warned surveillance measures at Chek Lap Kok were ineffective.
Piot stressed the importance of training people to spot infected passengers before they boarded a plane rather than after it had landed. "Widespread screening in airports is not that effective," he said on Monday.
A study in British medical journal The Lancet last week suggested the risk of an Ebola sufferer flying into Hong Kong was minimal, but that any outbreak on the mainland would pose a grave threat.
Hong Kong has had two Ebola scares, but both patients were given the all-clear. The virus has killed nearly 5,000 people, nearly all of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.