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Cablegate: Pandemic Planning: Hong Kong Response

VZCZCXRO0519
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHHM
DE RUEHHK #1221/01 1890113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070113Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5238
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 0811
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2355
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3792
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0823
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE PRIORITY 9658
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 1319
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 1271
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 0348
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 3764
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI PRIORITY 4971
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HONG KONG 001221

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP,
STATE FOR AIAG, OES/IHA, S/ES-O/CMS, M/PRI, M/MED
BEIJING FOR CHRISTENSEN/GREEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR PINR CH HK
SUBJECT: PANDEMIC PLANNING: HONG KONG RESPONSE

REF: A. STATE 67936
B. 06 STATE 177681
C. HONG KONG 470

1. (SBU) Consulate General Hong Kong appreciates the updated
pandemic planning guidance and clarifications in reftel A,
and submits the following response regarding Hong Kong and
Macau preparedness and pandemic planning. Post is taking/has
taken the following actions:

2. (SBU) Consulate Employee Awareness: Information on
pandemic planning is included in RSO and CLO in-briefs for
new arrivals, and on the Hong Kong Consulate Intranet
website. Post most recently issued an Admin Notice on
influenza information on March 13, 2008 (08-043), in response
to seasonal influenza outbreaks and the government's
subsequent closure of primary schools for two weeks (reftel
C). In the fall of 2008, Post will hold an open briefing for
all employees on pandemic planning, and issue updated
administrative instructions. Information on
shelter-in-place, food, water and medication supplies, and
health issues will be included in this outreach. Post last
issued such planning guidance on October 31, 2006 in response
to reftel B.

3. (SBU) Post Supplies:

--Potable Water: Hong Kong water supply is potable. We have
advised families and the public that one gallon of Clorox
(unscented) will sanitize over 3000 gallons of water, and
families should store Clorox accordingly.

--Medical Supplies: Supplies of hand sanitizer, antiviral
medication, N-95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves and
gowns are stockpiled at levels consistent with MED guidance
and in secure locations.

--Other Medical Materials: Post maintains appropriate stocks
which are continually updated.

4. (SBU) Continuity of Operations:

--Coordination: Post's Avian Influenza Working Group (AIWG),
chaired by the DPO, serves as the focal point for discussion,
strategy and action on all pandemic planning and response
matters. The AIWG includes members from: E/P, MGMT, Health
Unit, CONS, CLO, RSO, OLA (defense), PAS, and FAS. The Consul
General approves all actions taken by the AIWG, and the group
coordinates with the Emergency Action Committee (EAC) as
needed. The next crisis management tabletop exercise,
scheduled for July 20-21, includes an avian influenza
component.

--Tripwires: Post tripwires are reviewed at every meeting of
the AIWG, and are updated in the Emergency Action Plan and
Crisis and Emergency Planning Application (CEPA).

--Infrastructure Supplies: fuel, parts, computers, phones are
available where it is prudent to house them. For example, we
do not stockpile gasoline as we do not have the facility to
do so that would meet fire safety laws and regulations.
However, other components (computers, phones, etc.) are
well-stocked.

--Cleaning Procedures: Post has protocols developed by the
Health Unit, and approved by the AIWG, which include measures
for cleaning facilities in a range of scenarios, from
measures if pandemic influenza has been detected in Hong Kong
to pandemic influenza symptoms are exhibited in an employee
while at the Consulate.

--Cross-training Employees: Most sections of the Consulate,

HONG KONG 00001221 002 OF 002


including the Management and Consular sections, have
cross-trained both American and Locally-Engaged Staff as
appropriate.

--Communication Platforms: Post has the capability to
communicate with Consulate employees by telephone, SMS and
email. Post has the capability to communicate with American
citizens by email, newsletter, post's website, and SMS. Key
personnel have Open Net Everywhere (ONE) fobs to allow for
work from home, and warden messages have been sent using this
mechanism. The Hong Kong Government also activates an
influenza hotline at "serious-response level" or when any
public health concern arises.

5. (SBU) American Citizen Awareness:

--Post last issued a warden message on March 13, 2008
regarding influenza information in response to seasonal
influenza outbreaks and the government's subsequent closure
of primary schools for two weeks (reftel C). Post's last
comprehensive pandemic planning guidance was issued on
October 31, 2006 in response to reftel B. As updated
information is provided to Consulate employees in the fall of
2008, information will continue to be provided to American
citizens consistent with the Department's "no double
standard" policy.

--Post's website his kept up-to-date and includes links to:
www.pandemicflu.gov, and CA materials. To review, please
visit: http://hongkong.usconsulate.gov/ci avian.html.

--OSAC/AMCHAM: RSO and CONS regularly brief U.S. companies
through the OSAC. In February 2008, Post hosted a CDC expert
to discuss community mitigation at the American Chamber of
Commerce Hong Kong.

--International Schools: Post has met with the primary
international schools for AI briefings and contingency
planning, and will continue to do so.

6. (SBU) Comment: The Hong Kong Government operates at "code
orange" alert on pandemic influenza issues for most of each
year, as such, the Consulate's state of readiness is quite
good. In 2008, peak seasonal outbreaks in March and recent
findings of the H5N1 virus in Hong Kong wet markets provided
opportunities to review, test and revise the existing
planning and response mechanisms. Overall, confidence in the
Hong Kong Government's and the Consulate's ability to respond
to pandemic events is relatively high, but Post recognizes
that in a large-scale pandemic event no amount of
preparedness will be enough. Post efforts in the fall of
2008, following the Olympics and summer transfer season, will
focus on renewing awareness among all Consulate employees and
Americans in Hong Kong and Macau of the importance of
pandemic planning consistent with guidance in reftel A. End
comment.

7. (U) Post's point of contact until July 7 is ESTH Officer
Dawn Schrepel, who can be reached at schrepeldm@state.gov,
852-2841-2104 (office). Her successor is Russ Westergard,
who can be reached at westergardrw@state.gov, 852-2841-2202.
Cunningham

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