For Indonesian migrant workers (PMI), bedbugs are nothing new. These animals, which are also often referred to as bedbugs, or "bitches", often accompany PMI when they are quarantined at PT in Indonesia or when they live in shelters in Hong Kong.
But unexpectedly, bedbugs are endemic in many countries in Asia and Europe now. Including in Hong Kong. To the point that the Hong Kong Government had to hold a special briefing session regarding the potential for "aggression" by bedbugs.
"The government said on Saturday (11/11/2023) that it was holding a briefing to prevent bedbugs from entering the SAR," RTHK reported.
Hong Kong's acting Environment and Ecology secretary, Diane Wong, has met with representatives from the Airport Authority, MTR Corporation, the hospitality sector, the Tourism Commission and several government departments to discuss how to prevent bedbug infestations. Wong has also been briefed on the preventative measures already in place, including the cruise ship terminal.
Wong said the government will monitor the situation closely and will increase communication with organizations and sectors on the front line, and will also continue to provide technical support and coordinate efforts. The government also plans to educate the public about this issue and will distribute leaflets to related sectors.
MTR Corporation said on Friday it had inspected its Airport Express trains and cleaned them at high temperatures, after a passenger reported seeing bedbugs on the seats. The situation has come under increased scrutiny in the city after South Korea said there were at least 33 reports of bedbug infestations across the country between the middle of last month and November 5.
In Britain, some Tube passengers refused to sit in their seats after online footage emerged of bedbugs on passengers' feet, and Paris has also reportedly been hit by outbreaks of the bugs in schools, trains, hospitals and cinemas.
While speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today program, Professor Chiu Siu-wai, honorary senior researcher at Chinese University's Faculty of Life Sciences, said bedbugs were common in Hong Kong. “Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects. This is quite common in Hong Kong. "We conducted a survey in 2021 and at that time one sixth of respondents said they found bed bugs in their homes," he said.
“This is the second most popular blood-sucking insect in Hong Kong. "The most popular ones are mosquitoes," said Professor Chiu.
Professor Chu said that because bed bugs feed on blood, they can carry many infectious pathogens. But he said, unlike mosquitoes, there was no scientific evidence to prove that bedbugs transmit blood-borne diseases and therefore some countries refused to take action against them.
Professor Chiu said the best way to prevent bedbugs was to maintain good personal hygiene, although bedbugs themselves were difficult to control because they reproduce quickly and hide in crevices. He also said many people don't know there are these insects in their homes.