Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite: Hong Kong Gearing Up to Brave Against Bedbugs

As the surge of this year’s summer rolled out into the cooler autumn months of September and October, major cities in Europe, specifically Paris and London, were hit with a dreadful infestation of bedbugs.

The rise of these minuscule, nocturnal, human-biting, insects caused serious concern for the Deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire, who addressed the French nation on television on a frightful September morning, three months ago, warning that “no one is safe”.

Since then, the bedbug epidemic which was mostly contained to the West has made its way across land and seas to Asia, following multiple reports of outbreaks in areas of South Korea in the past month. As well as, in Singapore and Indonesia.

Located roughly 2,001 kilometres away from Hong Kong and a mere 3-and-a-half-hour flight to its capitol in Seoul, South Korea is one of Hong Kongers’ favourite international travel destinations. However, the recent development of the bug infestation has brought some concern over bringing the bedbug locally through international travel.

According to Undersecretary of Health spokesperson, Libby Lee Ha-yun, the Hong Kong government is aware of the concerns arising due to the pesky insects but insists that they pose little danger.

“From a medical perspective, bedbugs have no major impacts on people’s health,” she said at a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday 9 November 2023, adding that “this is a sanitation issue which needs to be tackled.”

Hong Kong Undersecretary of Health, Libby Lee Ha-yun, addressed bedbug prevention and control at a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday 9 November, 2023. (Photo: Edmund So/SCMP)

The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection said bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feast on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They are not known to spread disease and commonly move from location to location, typically in furniture, bedding, clothing, and baggage.

To curb against this, local authorities, most notably the Food and Hygiene Department (FEHD), Centre for Health Protection, and Department of Health have teamed up with the Airport Authority and various airlines to facilitate on-site inspection of Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), ensuring that the environmental hygiene and safety of aircraft and airports are up to standard.

Staff from the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) distribute leaflets about bedbug prevention to travellers at HKG airport. (Photo: GovHK)

Additionally, The FEHD said on Wednesday evening that it had also boosted travellers’ education on bedbug prevention and control by distributing numerous information leaflets about the issue to inbound and outbound travellers at the airport.

Featured Image: GovHK

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