In view of reoccurrence of SARS cases in the Chinese mainland, P Y Leung, controller of the Center for Health Protection, has called a meeting with representatives of the Department of Health (DH), Hospital Authority and universities to review laboratory safety in Hong Kong.
Participants to the meeting discussed ways to further enhance safety measures with a view to protecting the health of laboratory personnel and preventing the spillage of SARS virus.
They agreed to review their safety practices, to ensure all laboratory personnel remain vigilant, to receive all necessary training and all laboratory work was undertaken at the appropriate biocontainment level.
Although current safety measures should be able to prevent laboratory personnel from virus infection, staff involved in handling SARS virus and with sickness will be closely monitored to further reduce the risk.
All "Biosafety Level 3 Laboratories" personnel are reminded to inform DH promptly of any incident/accident of spillage and personal infection during laboratory work involving SARS virus.
There are a total of eight laboratories in six locations involved in SARS virus testing in Hong Kong, two of them involved in working with live SARS virus.
In line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, DH will maintain a registry of laboratories that are committed to safely and securely hold and work with SARS virus infected and/or potentially infected materials.
Subsequent to the reoccurrence of SARS cases in the Chinese mainland, DH sent out letters to private hospitals and laboratories again to remind them to adhere to guidelines in the "Precautions to Prevent Transmission of Infection in the Clinical Laboratory".
(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2004)