Government takes measures to prevent bedbug outbreak in Hong Kong

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29th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a recent Legislative Council session today, the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr. Tse Chin-wan, addressed concerns regarding the potential spread of bedbug infestations to Hong Kong. The issue has gained attention due to reports of bedbug outbreaks in European countries such as France and the United Kingdom, as well as in South Korea. Experts have also raised concerns about the possibility of bedbugs being imported to Hong Kong through the surge in international travel. The government has been urged to assess the risks and consequences of a bedbug outbreak and implement preventive measures.

In response to the questions raised, Mr. Tse provided detailed explanations on the government’s approach to tackling the issue. While bedbugs are relatively common in tropical and subtropical regions, they are less prevalent in colder areas. However, climate change may have contributed to the sudden proliferation of bedbugs in colder regions, leading to increased attention on the issue. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has emphasised that there is currently no evidence to suggest that bedbugs transmit diseases.

Recognising the potential for bedbug infestations to be brought into Hong Kong through international travellers and transportation, the government has taken proactive measures to strengthen prevention efforts. Relevant departments have conducted risk assessments in collaboration with frontline sectors such as the Airport Authority, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), hotels, public transport operators, and pest control experts. So far, there have been no noticeable indications of imported bedbug infestations, and the government remains confident in its ability to manage the problem.

To enhance monitoring and communication, the government has established a notification system through the Pest Control Steering Committee. If a department experiences a bedbug infestation outbreak, it is required to notify the committee, which discusses the direction of anti-bedbug work and implements follow-up measures. The committee will also make relevant information public as necessary.

Regarding public information dissemination, a thematic webpage on bedbugs has been created on the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s (FEHD) website. The webpage provides detailed information on bedbug prevention and control, including effective methods and factors to consider when selecting pest control services. The DH and the CHP will update health information on the thematic webpage as needed. Additionally, the FEHD has a dedicated hotline for inquiries related to bedbug control.

The government is committed to assisting underprivileged groups affected by bedbug infestations. The FEHD will collaborate with the Home Affairs Department and seek support from community care teams to provide practical information on hygiene maintenance and bedbug prevention to residents of subdivided units. For public housing tenants unable to address bedbug issues themselves, the Housing Department will offer assistance or refer cases to social welfare organisations.

Efforts to prevent the import of bedbug infestations extend to various sectors, including hotels, tourism, and public transport. Guidelines and leaflets on bedbug prevention and control have been distributed, and on-site inspections and deep cleansing with steam are conducted when suspected bedbug detection is reported.