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Relocating to Hong Kong
The Swine Flu in Hong Kong
In recent years there have been various cases of the flu in Hong Kong, including avian influenza and the swine flu. While expats are quite safe from major infections due to high security measures, there are some things to be aware of. Read our guide on the flu in Hong Kong for more information.
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After the first discovery of cases of Human Swine Influenza (HSI; also H1N1 Influenza) in North America in April 2009, the outbreak of the disease in Hong Kong peaked in the summer of the same year. As opposed to gloomy predictions, however, the situation of the in Hong Kong remained relatively stable. In May 2010, the government was finally able to downgrade the pandemic alert. Currently, only the lowest of the three emergency response levels is activated.
In August 2010, the World Health Organization officially declared that the H1N1 influenza virus has moved into the post-pandemic period. However, some cases of infections with the virus are expected to periodically reappear during seasonal influenza periods. This happened in September 2010, when a three-year-old boy passed away after having been tested positive for HSI. Although Hong Kong authorities continue to monitor the situation, there has not been an outbreak of the swine flu in recent years.
Security Measures and Precautions
There are several designated flu clinics dealing with outbreaks in Hong Kong, where people who think they might be suffering from flu symptoms can go for medical evaluations. Those who belong to a high risk group, such as pregnant women and elderly persons, receive flu medication. Only seriously ill patients are sent to a hospital.
During the imminent phase of the swine flu outbreak, government measures also included regular disinfection of lift buttons, bus seats and escalator handrails, as well as provision of soap and disinfection dispensers in public buildings. The Hong Kong government has stated that it is not going to resort to large-scale quarantine measures again. This happened in May 2009 when 300 guests were put under quarantine in the Metropark Hotel after Hong Kong’s first case of swine flu was discovered there. Currently, there is a vaccination program in place, which covers special target groups such as healthcare workers, and expecting mothers. Children receive vaccinations as well as the flue tends to spread quickly in Hong Kong’s schools.
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The Current Situation
Swine flu is no longer an imminent threat to you and your family in Hong Kong. Still, it is important that you monitor your health situation and that of your children closely. Don’t hesitate to see a doctor in Hong Kong if you have any suspicions you might be suffering from seasonal influenza, avian influenza or the swine flu. For more advice on how to best prevent infection, check the website of the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection. On this website, you can also find weekly reports and up-to-date information on the current situation as well as the regular seasonal flu in Hong Kong. Also have a look at our article on safety in Hong Kong for general safety advice.