Health Advice For Easter Holiday Travellers

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The Hong Kong Department of Health called on people traveling to neighbouring countries during Easter holidays to take precautionary measures against infectious diseases.

The department's Chief Port Health Officer, Dr Teresa Choi, said that in view of the recent increase in dengue fever in Southeast Asian countries, travellers should be vigilant in the prevention of infectious diseases especially mosquito-borne diseases.

"There have been 10 imported cases of dengue fever reported to the department so far this year and eight of them had traveled to Southeast Asia during the incubation period."

"This year, some of the countries in the region have recorded higher infection rates when compared with last year and the number of cases is expected to increase with the arrival of rainy season," Dr Choi said.

She pointed out that dengue fever was an endemic disease in Southeast Asian countries. The best way to prevent it while visiting these places was to avoid mosquito bites.

Dr Choi urged travellers to take the following preventive measures:

* Wear long-sleeved tops and trousers;

* Use insect repellent containing DEET over the exposed parts of the body;

* Rest in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms; and

* Use mosquito screens or nets when rooms are not air-conditioned.

Dr Choi said travellers should also remain on guard against food-borne infections.

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She said people should observe the following precautions during overseas travel to prevent food poisoning:

* Only patronise reputable and licensed restaurants;

* Do not patronise illegal food hawkers;

* Eat food thoroughly cooked, particularly seafood and shellfish, and eat food fresh from sealed packs or cans;

* Avoid eating raw seafood;

* Be a discerning consumer in choosing cold dishes, including sushi and raw oysters in a buffet;

* Drink boiled water, canned or bottled drinks, pasteurised milk or diary products;

* Only eat those fruits and vegetables that are thoroughly cleaned and fruit that you have peeled yourself;

* Use separate sets of chopsticks and eating utensils to handle raw and cooked food;

* Do not try to use salt, vinegar, wine and wasabi to kill bacteria as they are not effective;

* Make sure that food is properly stored and has been adequately reheated before consumption; and

* Always wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet.

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