SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and bird flu will be recognized as occupational diseases in Hong Kong following an amendment to its Employees Compensation Ordinance.
Their addition brings the special administrative region's total number of legally acknowledged occupational diseases to 48.
Hong Kong's Labor Department said on Monday that the amendment provides better protection to employees, expediting the compensation process for those infected.
Employees engaged in high-risk occupations involving close and frequent contact with SARS or Avian Influenza A infection will be covered.
Specified high SARS-risk occupations include medical and nursing staff, medical research or laboratory workers, pathologists, and post-mortem or funeral services workers. Around 94,000 employees in Hong Kong are engaged in these occupations.
High bird flu risk occupations include handlers of poultry or other birds and uncooked or untreated bird products, and research or laboratory workers. There are currently 5,000 people in these occupations in Hong Kong.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2005)