A 34-year-old man, China’s first confirmed case of Zika virus infection, stayed at the Hong Kong International Airport overnight before returning to the mainland.
Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection said in a statement on Wednesday that it received notification late Tuesday of the case from the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC).
The infection has been confirmed through medical tests conducted by the China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the NHFPC, the man traveled to Hong Kong on Feb. 3 from Venezuela, where he had stayed at a local hospital after developing fever, dizziness and headache on Jan. 28.
He stayed at the Hong Kong airport before proceeding to Shenzhen by ferry the next day.
He was hospitalized for isolation and management on Feb. 6 after he returned to his home in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province.
The NHFPC confirmed the man is now recovering with both his fever and skin rashes having subsided.
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiology expert at the University of Hong Kong, said he believed other passengers who were on the same flight with the man had a low risk of infection, noting that one could only get infected by being bitten by the same mosquito that bit the man within five to 10 days, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.
However, Yuen said the man could still transmit the Zika virus through sex or blood transfusion.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man told reporters the department was seeking details of the man’s travel history from mainland authorities because he had transited the city.
The risk of contracting the virus through human contact is low, so the bureau is not worried about the spread of the disease in Hong Kong, Ko said, but added that authorities are monitoring the situation closely.
The Port Health Office has stepped up inspections at the airport to maintain strict environmental hygiene with effective mosquito control.
It is also reinforcing training for contractors at boundary control points on port hygiene and pest control, a Department of Health spokesman said.
The World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency on Zika, after the virus was found to be spreading rapidly in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean.
Zika has been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil, reports said.
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