Eight more people have died of A-type flu caused by a strain of the H3N2 virus in Hong Kong, adding to the 31 fatalities last week, Apple Daily reported.
Meanwhile, a two-year-old girl is said to be in serious condition at an intensive care unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital after she suffered complications from serious pneumonia.
As the flu outbreak is getting more serious, experts at the Hospital Authority noted that the epidemic period has arrived sooner than usual this year and that the outbreak is also more severe. The problem may not end before mid-March, they said, warning that the death toll could reach as high as 200.
The outbreak could hit a peak in two or three weeks, around the time of the Chinese New Year holidays, which begin on February 18, the experts were quoted as saying.
Hospitals and clinics in the city have recently been crowded with patients having flu symptoms of cough, fever or running nose. Statistics from the Center for Health Protection showed 110 adult patients had suffered from serious flu and that 59 of them died as of Tuesday, eight more than a day earlier.
Meanwhile, there have been eight cases of serious flu involving people below the age of 18.
Dr. Tsang Ngai-chong, Chief Infection Control Officer of Hospital Authority, said the 31 deaths from flu last week marked a weekly record in the past five years, surpassing the previous record of 26 deaths in a week in 2012.
A doctor said the rise in the number of flu cases suggests that the current H3N2 virus might be more vicious than other flu viruses. An epidemics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said a misjudgment by the World Health Organization has led to vaccine protection rate to drop to just about 20 percent.
Meanwhile, Apple Daily also reported that the first H7N9 bird flu case was confirmed in North America for the first time this year.
Canada’s health department was quoted as saying that a woman in her fifties was found infected with the virus two days after she returned to Vancouver from Hong Kong on January 12. The woman is reported to have traveled in the mainland before boarding an Air Canada plane to Vancouver.
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