Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

Dear ISIT 2015 participants,

In view of the escalating situation of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea, the Hong Kong Government has raised on June 8, 2015 the response level from "Alert" to "Serious" under the Preparedness Plan for MERS. So far there has been no cases in Hong Kong, and the focus of the guidelines given by the Hong Kong government is on travelers who have recently been to the affected areas.

According to the guidelines of the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection on June 8, 2015, suspected cases of MERS will be under surveillance. A suspected case of MERS is one such that the patient has symptoms AND has a travel history for the preceeding 14 days to the affected areas that include the Arabian Peninsula or neighbouring countries (i.e., Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, State of Palestine, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) and South Korea.

The incubation period of MERS can be as long as 14 days. If you come from or have visited the affected areas during the past 14 days and do not feel comfortable traveling to Hong Kong to attend ISIT, we can fully refund the registration fee you have paid upon request. If as a result your paper cannot be presented at the conference, it would still appear in the proceedings.

As a preventive measure for MERS, participants are advised to take heed of personal hygiene:

  • Keep hands clean and wash hands properly with liquid soap and water. Alcohol-based handrubs are also effective when hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover nose and mouth with tissues when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid going to crowded or poorly-ventilated places. If you must do so, wear a mask and step up personal hygiene.
  • Do not share towels or personal items.
  • Use serving spoons and chopsticks.
  • Avoid contact with poultry or birds and their droppings. If contacts have been made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Put on a face mask when influenza symptoms or fever develop. See a doctor promptly.

At the ISIT venue, face masks and hand disinfectant are available for the participants. We can also take the body temperature of a participant upon request.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any help.

David Tse and Raymond Yeung
General Co-Chair, ISIT 2015