Hong Kong on alert after viral outbreak

HONG KONG: Hong Kong health officials warned the public to be on alert yesterday after hundreds of people were struck down by an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis. 

The Department of Health said the outbreak, which emerged at a school last week, had infected 409 people after spreading to four schools, a home for the elderly, a hospital ward and a training centre. 

The outbreak appears to be linked to the Noro virus, also known as the Norwalk virus, which generally occurs in places where there is inadequate sanitation, and food is contaminated by infected people. 

A Department of Health spokesman said that outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis were common during the colder winter months with some 39 outbreaks reported last year involving nearly 900 people. 

Since January this year, there had been 41 outbreaks with some 1,000 people affected.  

Of the nine recent outbreaks since last week, five were confirmed to be caused by the Norwalk virus. 

The outbreaks have sparked concern among the public that measures to control infectious diseases were inadequate. – AFP  


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