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There is a one in 10 chance Hong Kong will be hit by an influenza epidemic in the next decade, according to experts.
But the good news is the city is ready to face such a threat.
Speaking at a symposium on pandemic influenza yesterday, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology economics professor Francis Lui Ting- ming said the city is especially susceptible because of its dense population and the large number of visitors who arrive by air annually.
The World Health Organization has also warned the planet is overdue for such an outbreak
It said pandemics occur every 10 to 50 years and it has been 40 years since the last one.
A new outbreak may affect approximately 25 percent of the global population.
AmCham Health & Wellness Committee chairman Steve Paine said Hong Kong is better prepared than most owing to the experience it gained during the SARS epidemic.
He said 15 percent of Hong Kong corporations have business continuity plans to address pandemics and a further 50 percent are in the process of developing one.
He called on businesses to stockpile antiviral drugs, increase communication with the government and raise awareness among employees.
Apart from the obvious human cost of an outbreak, the experts stressed the economic and security implications of a pandemic may be devastating.
A World Bank study estimated a pandemic could lead to US$3 trillion (HK$23.4 trillion) in economic losses, making the current financial tsunami look slight.
Lui said the government could cover about 30 percent of residents with antiviral drugs. In comparison, worldwide coverage sits at 15 percent. Although that number has to be improved, he said it is unlikely it will be accomplished soon.
"These drugs cost quite a bit of money and it may be impossible for all governments to constantly fund these programs," he said.
An outbreak, according to Lui would wreak havoc on transportation and health services.
- 1 十年前最愛解答
專家表示香港在下一個世紀有十分一的機會會爆發流行性感冒, 但可喜的是香港已做好準備面對這個威脅。在一個流感座談會上, 科大Francis Lui教授表示由於香港的人口密度及每年的大量海外遊客, 使香港特別容易爆發流行性感冒。
世衛亦發出警告全球的流感爆發有所延誤, 世衛表示大規模流感每10至50年出現一次, 現距離上一次的大規模流感有40年。
新一輪流感爆發可能影響約全球1/4的人口, 美國商會Health & Wellness Committee (註: 這個查不到中文翻譯, 此組織是美國商會辦的一個衛生委員會, 委員會會舉辦一些活動及提供一個平台以作推廣健康衛生的訊息)會長Steve表示香港有較佳的準備是由於曾經歷過往沙士爆發的經驗。
他表示15%的香港企業有針對流感爆發制定企業連續方案(註: 即一旦發生災難, 此方案用來幫助企業在預定的時間內修建及恢復), 及另外50%正在制定中。他呼籲企業儲存抗病毒的藥物, 多與政府溝通及增強員工的防範意識。
Lui 說政府的抗流感藥物可應付3成香港市民, 相比起來, 全球的藥物只可覆蓋1成5的人口。雖然此數字有待改進, 但他表示不太可能在短時間內完成。
Lui 認為流感爆發會對運輸及衛生服務造成嚴重的破壞。資料來源： me, yahoo dictionary, AmCham, wiki