Influenza situation update

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (February 7) again reminded the public to stay alert against influenza during the Chinese New Year as Hong Kong is in the winter influenza peak season.

     The CHP's Public Health Laboratory Centre recorded a total of 880 influenza isolate detections between January 31 and February 4. The majority (91%) of them were influenza A (H1N1) 2009, followed by influenza B (5%) and influenza A (H3N2) (4%).

     Influenza-like-illness (ILI) consultation rates at government out-patient clinics and general practitioners remained at a high level. ILI consultation rates at sentinel private doctors for the week ending January 29 was 71.3 per 1,000 consultations while the corresponding figure for the preceding week was 65.8. The ILI consultation rates at government out-patient clinics were 8 per 1,000 consultations for the above two weeks.

     During the 48 hours ending at 2pm today, the CHP received four reports of ILI outbreaks occurring in institutions, affecting 18 people.

     Through its enhanced influenza surveillance system with the Hospital Authority, seven reports of influenza-associated admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) of public hospitals were received in the same 48-hour period. The period saw two reports of influenza-associated deaths, which have been included in the above seven reports.

     Meanwhile, the CHP also received a report from Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital late this afternoon of a severe paediatric influenza-associated death involving a seven-year-old girl with underlying illness. The case is outside the above 48-hour reporting period. Preliminary result available is that the girl's nasal pharyngeal specimen tested positive for influenza A. The case will be referred to Coroner's Court for investigation.

     A spokesman for CHP said influenza vaccine is effective in providing protection against influenza infection. High risk groups are urged to receive an influenza vaccination as soon as possible to protect their health. As at February 6, more than 362,000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines had been administered to specified target groups under the Government Vaccination Programme and Vaccination Subsidy Schemes.

     Members of the public are reminded to stay alert and take precautionary measures against influenza, including maintaining good personal as well as environmental hygiene; building up good body immunity by having a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking.

Ends/Monday, February 7, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:08