CityU takes measures to prevent avian flu

Karen Lai

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CityUniversity of Hong Kong is taking significant steps to increase awareness and educate the University community about avian flu. The aim is to ensure that all staff and students are taking the best possible precautionary measures to prevent and protect against any outbreak.

 

The first step was to set up on 7 November the Ad-hoc Group on Prevention of Avian Flu. Professor H K Chang, President, appointed Professor Y S Wong, Vice-President (Administration) as the chairman of the Group. Members include: Professor Richard Ho, Dean of Undergraduate Education; Professor Lilian Vrijmoed, Dean of Student Learning; Mr Gabriel Chan, Director of Finance; Mr K Y Wong, Director of Facilities Management; Dr Ellen Ko, Director of Human Resources; Mrs Mary Rose Chu, Head of Academic Regulations and Records Office; Mrs Betty Chan, Associate Director of Communications; Dr Charles Chan and Dr Angela Lau from the Young Chung-Yee Health Centre of the University; and Ms Dora Lee, Executive Officer of the Office of the Vice-President (Administration).

 

Avian flu, or bird flu as it is commonly known, or H5N1 to give its medical term, is an influenza A virus that mainly infects birds but occasionally affects humans who come into close contact with infected birds during an outbreak. Transmission between humans is rare, but occurrences have been observed.

 

In response to concerns over a possible flu pandemic, the Group has been established with the specific role to enhance precautionary measures across different departments and educate members of the CityU community about the possible health threat. The key message is that all staff and students should pay close attention to health, maintain thorough personal hygiene and keep the environment clean.

 

In addition, a special website, entitled Campus Prevention of Avian Flu (www.cityu.edu.hk/avianflu), has been launched. It serves as a platform between the University and staff and students, and provides up-to-date information from the Government, the Hospital Authority and related organizations.

 

"At this stage, through the information and messages contained on this website, we will be encouraging staff and students to pay close attention to personal hygiene and health, and remind them to take all the necessary precautions,” Professor Y S Wong said. “If there is an outbreak, the website will serve as the main channel for disseminating information,” he added.

 

The University has also distributed to all departments, and made available on the new website, a handbook published by the Health Department entitled “Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Kit” and placed posters around campus emphasizing the importance of personal hygiene, such as washing hands and maintaining a hygienic environment.

 

Professor Wong added: “Staff and students can just keep to their normal lifestyle. What we encourage them to do is to pay attention to health and hygiene, for example, to have more physical exercise to strengthen their health.”

 

At its first formal meeting on 7 November, the Group defined its roles and responsibilities. It also discussed preventive measures and the necessary emergency plans against a possible outbreak. The Group recommended that, at this stage, its key task is to promote awareness and understanding of avian flu. Measures include placing posters and notices around campus, organizing talks and increasing the amount of cleaning carried out around the University.

 

Members also discussed what specific areas emergency plans should cover. These include: arrangements at the student residence, arrangements for classes and examinations should an outbreak occur, and effective communication mechanisms needed to disseminate the related messages. The Group will hold regular meetings to draw up the emergency plans and related measures.

 

Another step sees experts from the Health Department come to CityU at the invitation of the University Health Centre to enhance our understanding on how to prevent flu. The talk “How to Prevent Influenza” takes place from 1:00 pm to 2:00pm on 14 November in Lily Chiang Lecture Theatre (LT7). It will be conducted in Cantonese. For more information, please contact the Young Chung-Yee Health Centre at 2788 8022.


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