Date
20 October 2017
Many Hongkongers have taken to wearing masks in public places as the flu outbreak continues. Photo:Xinhua
Many Hongkongers have taken to wearing masks in public places as the flu outbreak continues. Photo:Xinhua

Flu claims 12 more lives in HK, taking toll to 157 this year

Twelve more people died of flu in Hong Kong Tuesday, bringing the death toll from the epidemic to 157 since the beginning of the year, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Ten of the new victims were dead within 24 hours of being placed in the intensive care units of hospitals.

A total of 236 adults have been treated for flu in ICUs this year.

The outbreak has been caused mainly by a new variant of the H3N2 virus.

The Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin saw a total of 424 H3N2 flu cases last month, compared with no more than 300 in any month in the past.

Dr. Chan Kay-sheung, dean of the department of microbiology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that this year the virus has clearly done more damage to people aged 65 or older than to children and others who are younger.

Out of 1,000 older people who have been hospitalized, 3.8 were hit by the flu virus, double the average rate between 1998 and 2012, he said.

Chan expects the peak period of the outbreak to last six to nine weeks and said we are now only halfway through it.

Although the growth in the number of serious cases and the death toll is slowing down, people should be prepared for the two figures to double before the outbreak is over, he said.

Lee Lai-shun, a professor of infectious diseases at CUHK, said patients suffering from asthma and immune system disorder are prone to becoming infected by the flu virus, as they are often treated with medications containing steroids, which tend to suppress the functioning of the immune system.

However, he does not suggest that they stop taking their medications for that reason.

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TL/AC/FL

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