Hong Kong authorities have begun giving arriving airport passengers warning leaflets about bedbug transmission and prevention after infestations were reported in South Korea, France and the UK.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said in a statement it had begun handing out leaflets at the airport on Wednesday to foreign visitors and local people to enhance their awareness about bedbug prevention and control.
FEHD reminded 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.
“Although information shows that bedbugs will not spread diseases, bedbug bites may cause skin allergy and itchiness and make people feel unwell…” a government spokesperson said, adding that authorities will enhance communication with relevant business sectors.
Over the past few months, Paris and a few large cities in Britain have seen bedbug outbreaks.
Infestations have been reported in South Korea since September. According to the BBC, some Koreans chose to stay at home during holiday to avoid bedbugs as at least 17 outbreaks have been reported in the capital of Seoul and the cities of Busan and Incheon as of November 5.
Hong Kong so far has not seen any report of infestations but experts have warned of the risk of foreign transmission since bedbugs can infest public transport and travellers’ luggage.
Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.
A government spokesperson said bedbugs usually hide where humans sleep and rest, such as mattresses, carpets and inside the joins in furniture.
“For effective prevention and control of bedbug, members of the public are advised to maintain a clean domestic environment, ” the spokesperson said, recommending more cleaning and vacuuming, washing bedding and clothing thoroughly with hot water, avoiding second-hand furniture, replacing old wallpaper and sealing cracks and crevices in walls and on the floor.
Travellers returning to Hong Kong are advised to check luggage for bedbugs and wash clothes in hot water.
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