Local authorities are closely monitoring the situation and warning foreign passengers arriving in Hong Kong and locals returning to the city about bedbug prevention and control.
This comes as the South Korean government said the bedbug infestation cases were rising across the country. There is a high alert at bathhouses, university dormitories, and train stations nationwide.
While Hong Kong has not reported any bedbug infestations to date, experts caution about the potential risk of foreign transmission. The warning stems from the fact that bedbugs can easily infest public transport and travellers’ luggage.
A Hong Kong government spokesperson said in a statement: “Although information shows that bedbugs will not spread diseases, bedbug bites may cause skin allergy and itchiness and make people feel unwell. The government therefore takes swift actions to minimise the chance of transmission of bedbugs from overseas to the local community.”
It continued: “The government’s work requires the cooperation of the public and relevant trade sectors. We will therefore step up publicity and education work, maintain close communication with relevant sectors and provide different parties with information in order to prevent and control the spread of bedbugs together.”
The bedbug infestations in France and the UK – and now several cases of infestations in the US as well – have alarmed authorities in many countries. Social media is also flooded with pictures and stories of people encountering bedbugs.
A bedbug infestation that forced part of a hotel in Athens to close was last month blamed on French travellers carrying the critters across Europe.
In Hong Kong, the local Food and Environmental Hygiene Department [FEHD] told airlines and the airport authority to “enhance hygiene to ward off bedbugs”.
Irene Yeung, director of the FEHD, visited hotel representatives on Wednesday to advise on minimising the risk of bedbug transmission, a statement from the government said.
Hong Kong authorities have asked the public to “stay vigilant and check if there are bedbugs in hotel rooms or public places while travelling abroad”.
It has also urged those returning to Hong Kong “to check their personal luggage for bedbugs and wash clothes in hot water – 60 degrees Celsius – when necessary”.
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