CDC Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Travel Alert Issued For Hong Kong

Hong Kong travel alerts issued for coronavirus and measles outbreaks by the CDC

hong kong night skyline

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding the ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China.

On February 19, 2020, the CDC said this new Travel Alert is related to the person to person spreading of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC suggests to avoid being infected with this novel coronavirus, ‘travelers to Hong Kong should avoid contact with sick people and clean their hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%–95% alcohol.’

The CDC continued saying ‘cases of the coronavirus 2019 disease, COVID-19, have been associated with travel to or from mainland China or close contact with a travel-related case, and multiple instances of community-spread have been reported in Hong Kong.’

This means that people in Hong Kong SAR may have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.

Outside of China, Hong Kong has confirmed the most COVID-19 cases, with local media reporting a 2nd fatality reported on February 18, 2020. 

However, the CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to Hong Kong, at this time.

If you do travel to Hong Kong, the CDC suggests you take the following protective steps:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

If you spent time in Hong Kong during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing:

  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel to Hong Kong, an area with community spread of coronavirus, and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

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Illness from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been confirmed to cause severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. 

Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness.

Additionally, the CDC says healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever or acute respiratory symptoms. 

For patients with these symptoms who were in Hong Kong and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider novel coronavirus infection and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

Recently, in an unrelated announcement, the Hong Kong Department of Health reported 2 suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which is another type of coronavirus.

A full list of CDC recommended vaccinations can be found at this webpage.

Travel alerts are published by Vax-Before-Travel.