The 2009 flu pandemic in Hong Kong started with the city's first reported case of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 infection, commonly called swine flu, on 1 May 2009, in a Mexican national who had travelled to Hong Kong via Shanghai. It was also the first reported case of in Asia.[1] As of 25 November 2009, there have been 32,301 confirmed cases of swine flu in the city.[2]

Initial response

Following news of the flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States, on 26 April, Secretary for Food and Health York Chow announced that Hong Kong had raised its influenza pandemic alertness level to "serious",[3] out of three possible alertness levels: alert, serious, and emergency.[4] Hong Kong also became one of the first jurisdictions to declare swine flu as a notifiable disease, and much of the procedures against the spread of the swine flu were learned from the 2003 SARS outbreak, of which Hong Kong was the epicenter.[5][6] Chow advised Hong Kong residents to avoid travelling to cities facing an outbreak of the flu, and stated that swine flu has been added to the list of notifiable disease, which required cases of the flu to be reported to the government. Residents were also advised to take precautionary measures against infection if travel to affected areas was necessary. Surveillance measures at boundary control points were boosted to detect travellers with fever and respiratory symptoms, and travellers who were suspected of being infected would be quarantined and monitored.[3]

First case

On 1 May, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang told reporters that tests performed by the Department of Health and the University of Hong Kong confirmed that a 25-year-old Mexican citizen who had traveled to the city via Shanghai on a China Eastern Airlines flight was infected with swine flu.[1][7] In light of this, Tsang raised Hong Kong's influenza pandemic alertness level to "emergency" from "serious". This first confirmed case of swine flu in Hong Kong was also the first confirmed case in Asia. The man had developed a fever after arriving in Hong Kong, and was then isolated in Princess Margaret Hospital, the hospital designated to handle swine flu cases.[8] The hotel where the traveller had stayed, the Metropark Hotel in Wanchai,[9] was quarantined and about 200 guests and 100 staff were instructed to remain in the hotel for seven days regardless of whether or not they had come into contact with the traveller.[7] Authorities also made an effort to track down anybody who had made contact with the traveller, with Chow appealing to those who were on the same flight as the traveller to contact health officials.[10]

The guests and staff were released on 8 May, when the quarantine expired. Tsang was at the hotel for the release, speaking to reporters and with those who had been quarantined. To compensate for the quarantine, the government offered guests two free nights of accommodation at other hotels in Hong Kong. The Mexican traveller was also discharged after treatment with the antiviral drug Tamiflu and the Centre for Health Protection confirmed that he was no longer carrying the virus.[11]

School closure

Following the finding that 12 students at St. Paul's Convent School contracted the swine flu virus, Chief Executive Donald Tsang ordered the closure of all primary schools, kindergartens, and special schools for two weeks starting from 12 June. The 12 cases of infection were confirmed to be the first known cluster of local transmission of the virus. According to the Education Bureau, the school closure affected about 500,000 students from 964 kindergartens, 601 primary schools and 61 special schools.[12][13]

See also


  1. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (2009-05-01). "Asia's first swine flu case reported in Hong Kong". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 26 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  2. ^ "Swine and Seasonal Flu Monitor - Volume 1, Number 9" (PDF). Centre for Health Protection. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  3. ^ a b "Swine flu alert raised to 'serious'". Information Services Department. 2009-04-26. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  4. ^ "Framework of Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic" (PDF). Centre for Health Protection. July 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  5. ^ Tang, Leslie (28 April 2009). "HK steps up SARS-like emergency precautions against swine flu". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  6. ^ Webley, Kayla (27 April 2009). "The Lessons from SARS". Time. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  7. ^ a b "Swine flu: 300 quarantined in Hong Kong hotel for a week". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  8. ^ "Mexican traveler is HK's first swine flu case". The Standard. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  9. ^ Elizabeth Yuan (2009-05-04). "1 swine flu case leads to 340 quarantines in Hong Kong". CNN. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  10. ^ "Battle stations as Mexican brings swine flu to HK". The Standard. 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  11. ^ Sophie Leung (2009-05-08). "Hong Kong Lifts Swine Flu Quarantine on 351 People". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  12. ^ Beatrice Siu (2009-06-12). "Tough action on lessons backed by principals". The Standard. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  13. ^ Patsy Moy (2009-06-12). "Pandemic ... but don't panic". The Standard. Retrieved 2009-08-28.