H7N9 bird flu infects Hong Kong maid, MERS virus kills pregnant woman in UAE

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Hong Kong, China (4E) – A maid in Hong Kong was in critical condition from H7N9 bird flu infection while a Jordanian woman died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The 36-year-old Indonesian maid confined at Queen Mary Hospital prompted Hong Kong health authorities to raise the government’s flu pandemic preparedness plan to “serious” as the virus has crossed from mainland China. A total 140 mainland Chinese have been infected with the disease since April and 45 have died.

The maid was found to have traveled to Shenzhen, where she bought live chicken at a market on Nov. 17. Four of her family members were isolated at Princess Margaret Hospital for showing bird flu symptoms while Centre for Health Protection controller Leung Ting-hung said the maid’s friend who traveled with her to Shenzhen is being traced.

Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said the maid consulted doctors on Nov. 21 and again on Nov. 25. She was admitted to a hospital on Nov. 27 due to breathing difficulties and fever. Initial tests on Thursday and Saturday did not show any H7N9 infection but a third test on Monday confirmed she was infected.

Meanwhile, MERS fatality in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) was a 32-year-old Jordanian woman. She was pregnant when diagnosed with MERS infection and delivered her baby, who survived, before dying, according to Dr. Jamal Al Kaabi, director of Customer Care and Corporate Communications at the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi.

She was the first case of a pregnant woman infected with coronavirus and the second death from the virus in the UAE out of eight confirmed MERS cases. A total 149 people worldwide have contracted the disease since it was discovered in September 2012 and 63 have died as of October.

The MERS fatality was admitted to a hospital on Nov. 22 and delivered her 32-week-old baby by Caesarean section before dying on Monday. Her 38-year-old Jordanian husband also developed MERS symptoms on Nov. 15 and hospitalized on Nov. 20. Their 8-year-old son showed mild symptoms of the virus and was isolated.

The family had not traveled recently and did not come into contact with an infected person or animal but the World Health Organization is still investigating how the Jordanian couple got infected.

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