Hong Kong health officials are thinking about closing Lion Rock Park after five of the seven people who are confirmed to have dengue fever reported visiting the area.
If this happens, it would be the first time a public park has been closed in Hong Kong to deal with the disease. Dengue fever is relatively new to Hong Kong. Until recently, the cases reported in Hong Kong had caught the disease somewhere else. But in 2016, Hong Kong recorded its very first case of locally-caught dengue.
The dengue disease is spread by the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which is common in Hong Kong. Those infected usually have a high fever, very bad headache and muscle pain. The disease cannot be spread from person to person, only from person to mosquito and mosquito to person.
Closing the park would allow health officials to spray the area with poison to kill the mosquitoes. Workers would also clear water that is collected in puddles after the rains. Mosquitoes use stagnant water – water that is not in a running river or in the ocean – to breed.
Health officials have warned of a large outbreak of dengue fever after more cases were confirmed on Thursday. Since Tuesday, seven cases have been reported. Two of the cases announced on Tuesday and three on Thursday had visited Lion Rock Park.
The Centre for Health Protection advises people going outdoors to wear long sleeves and to use bug spray on all exposed parts of their skin. Cleaning up any stagnant water at home will also help.
Lee Ming-wai, a pest control officer with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), said there were “alarming” increases in mosquito infestations at monitoring points in Wong Tai Sin Central, a spot close to Lion Rock Park.