HK enters winter flu season

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The CHP said there were 341 persons in HK affected by influenza-like illness as of Dec. 29.


The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health yesterday (January 2) said that the number of flu cases had continued to increase, indicating that Hong Kong “has entered the winter influenza season.”

In a statement, the CHP urged members of the public heighten its vigilance for protection against influenza, which is mainly spread through droplets when infected people cough, sneeze or talk.

“We anticipate that local seasonal influenza activity will continue to rise in the coming weeks and remain at an elevated level for some time,” a CHP spokesman said.

“We again urge the public, particularly children, the elderly and chronic disease patients, to get vaccinated as early as possible and observe strict personal, hand and environmental hygiene at all times,” he added.

The CHP-Public Health Laboratory Services Branch records showed that the number of patients who tested positive for seasonal influenza viruses “increased steadily since mid-November and rose to 14 per cent last week, ending December 29.”

The weekly number of institutional influenza-like illness (ILI) outbreaks reported to the CHP ranged from eight to 17 in the past four weeks (December 2 to 29), affecting 341 persons, including 30 in kindergartens/child care centres, nine in primary schools, six in residential care homes for the elderly, four in residential care homes for persons with disabilities, two in secondary schools, and one each in a hospital and a special school.

The CHP said the circulating influenza viruses in the past four weeks were predominately influenza A(H1) (around 80 per cent) and A(H3) (around 20 per cent), with very low influenza B activity.

Past epidemiological data shows that children and adults aged from 50 to 64 years were relatively more affected in seasons dominated by influenza A(H1), the centre added.

The CHP said it will issue letters to doctors, hospitals, institutions and schools to appeal for heightened vigilance and appropriate actions.

For schools, their management should stay alert to seasonal influenza following the end of the Christmas and New Year holiday.

As an additional measure to prevent transmission of influenza in school environments, schools are reminded to actively check the body temperature of all students every day when they arrive at school to identify those with fever.

Those with fever (oral temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius or ear temperature over 38 degrees C), with or without respiratory symptoms, should not be allowed to attend school. Schools should advise them to seek medical advice and avoid school till two days after fever subsides.

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