The Hospital Authority (HA) has advised people suffering influenza symptoms to consider visiting Chinese medicine centers as public hospitals in the city continue to be overwhelmed by patients amid the ongoing summer flu crisis.
Dr. Eric Ziea, chief of Chinese Medicine and Integrative Medicine at the HA, pointed out on Monday that there are 18 Chinese medicine centers that are jointly run by the authority and universities or non-profit institutions.
Those facilities have not seen a significant increase in patients at their outpatient clinics, unlike the public hospitals that have been overcrowded for quite some time, he said.
People who are troubled by chronic cough or long-term flu might as well go to the centers for help so that they don’t have wait for their turn in a long queue at public hospitals, Ziea said, adding that it normally takes only about an hour from registering to picking up medicine.
He noted that the centers had seen about 27,000 patients between April 1 and July 20, up only 1.5 percent from a year earlier, suggesting they can handle another 20 to 30 percent increase of the number, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Amid the flu crisis, some doctors in traditional Chinese medicine are said to have asked the HA to allow them to set up temporary posts by the emergency rooms of public hospitals to help patients.
Asked about HA’s response to the proposal, Ziea said detailed planning is needed, pointing out that doctors at the government-run Chinese medicine centers are not hired by the HA but by non-governmental institutions.
In the days ahead, the authority will closely monitor the situation at the established Chinese medicine centers, and extend their practice hours if necessary.
Chen Wei, chief of Chinese medicine service at Yan Chai Hospital–Hong Kong Baptist University Chinese Medicine Centre for Training and Research (Yan Chai), said the abnormally hot and humid weather this year has caused quite a few “wet and hot” type of flu cases that had been unusual before, with symptoms including repeated high fever, dark urine and constipation.
Given the situation, an expert team at the HA has come up with a new pill formulated to ease the symptoms.
Chan urged the public to refrain from drinking too many cold drinks and try to eat their meals at regular intervals to reduce the chance of contracting flu.
HA data show the summer flu crisis had claimed 235 lives between May 5 and July 23, including 22 in the three days until Sunday.
The overall occupancy rate of medical wards at 17 public hospitals reached 110 percent on Sunday, topped by 126 percent at Prince of Wales Hospital, and followed by 121 percent at United Christian Hospital and 120 percent at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
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