Winter flu leaves 16 dead in HK

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Tseung Kwan O Hospital (Source: Google Maps)

The number of fatalities due to the winter influenza in Hong Kong reached 16 as of yesterday (January 7), local media reported.

Quoting the HK Centre for Health Protection, the Oriental Daily reported that there were 42 serious case of adult influenza and 16 of them had died since the New Year.

Seven of the dead patients were aged 65 and above while two were aged 50 to 64 years old.

On the other hand, the Hospital Authority said it was closely monitoring the situation because public hospitals were full of patients.

The occupancy rate of inpatient beds reached 130 percent at the Tseung Kwan O Hospital, 124 percent at the Caritas Medical Centre, and 123 percent in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In some hospital, the waiting time reached more than eight hours.

The CHP said earlier warned that the number of flu cases 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 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.

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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