16 February 2019
There has been a significant rise in consultation rates for influenza-like illness, say Hong Kong health officials. Photo: Xinhua
There has been a significant rise in consultation rates for influenza-like illness, say Hong Kong health officials. Photo: Xinhua

Health officials sound alert for winter influenza

Hong Kong has entered the winter influenza season, health officials said on Thursday, urging people to take proper precautions and maintain good hygiene standards. 

According to the health department’s Center for Health Protection (CHP), consultation rate reported by public hospitals and private doctors in the city in relation to influenza-like illness (ILI) has surged 20 percent during the week from January 17.

The ILI consultation rate reported by private doctors rose from 55.3 ILI cases per 1,000 consultations to 69, representing a 25 percent increase, while that of public general outpatient clinics increased from 4.7 to 5.8 per 1,000 consultations.

The numbers recorded were at similar levels to those recorded in January 2014, suggesting that the city has entered the winter influenza season.

The percentage positive for seasonal influenza viruses increased from 5.85 percent in the week ending January 16 to 7.29 percent in the following week among respiratory specimens received by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

Among influenza virus detections in the week ending July 23, 67 percent were Type A (H1N1), 23 percent were Type B Swine Flu and five percent were Type A (H3N2), CHP said.

According to Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong, Hospital Authority’s Chief Infection Control Officer, 200 patients have been hospitalized at public hospitals due to ILI so far this year, with four deaths recorded, Ming Pao Daily reported.

On January 27, the Bed Occupancy Rates at Caritas Medical Centre and United Christian Hospital hit 124 and 122 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, there were 576 and 563 people seeking medical help at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) services units at Tuen Mun Hospital and United Christian Hospital, respectively.

Overall, there were 6,165 people who have used A&E services across all Hospital Authority’s institutions on that day, which was higher than the average number.

Meanwhile, across the border, health officials in Guangdong and Hunan provinces have reported two additional human cases of avian influenza A (H7N9). The two patients were a 74-year-old male from Meizhou, Guangdong, and a 33-year-old male from Yongzhou, Hunan.

Both the patients are said to have had a history of contact with poultry.

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said it will continue to closely monitor local as well as overseas influenza situation.

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