Avian flu: advice for travellers over Lunar New Year

Avian flu: advice for travellers over Lunar New Year

F.P. Report

LONDON: The Lunar New Year begins on Tuesday 1 February 2022 and ends with the Lantern Festival on 15 February 2022.

Travellers should be aware of the risk of avian flu when travelling to China during the annual festival.

A record number of human cases with avian flu (H5N6) have been reported from China with onset in 2021, with over 20 cases occurring last year. Before 2021, the largest number of cases of avian flu in China was in 2016 when 9 human cases of infection were reported.

Most cases reported by China have involved close contact with an infected bird. Transmission can occur through contact with dead or alive birds and markets where live birds are sold can be a source of infection. China has not reported any spread of H5N6 from person to person.

Though the risk to the UK public is very low, UKHSA and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) are reminding UK travellers to mainland China to protect themselves from avian flu by minimising exposure to wild birds and poultry while in China.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, a Consultant in Acute Respiratory Infections at UKHSA, said:

Anyone visiting China should avoid exposure to any birds in ‘wet markets’ as a precaution and maintain good hand hygiene while travelling.

Avian influenza remains a risk in China and if travellers experience any flu like symptoms within 10 days of returning from China, they should call their GP or NHS 111 and report their recent travel activity. These symptoms are similar to coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, so informing their GP or NHS 111 about their recent travel is important.

UKHSA has arrangements in place to deal with emerging diseases. This includes the detection and investigation of suspected cases, and the management of confirmed cases and their contacts.

Travellers can check NaTHNaC’s TravelHealthPro website for current travel health recommendations for:

  • China
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Macao
  • Taiwan
  • Tibet

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