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Increase in influenza activity in Hong Kong

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (January 9) called on the public to maintain vigilance against seasonal influenza as the latest surveillance data shows an increase in local influenza activity, signalling the impending arrival of the winter influenza season.

     The Public Health Laboratory Centre (PHLC) of the CHP has detected increases in the number of influenza isolations recently. The number of influenza virus detections reported increased from 68 in the week ending November 12, 2011 to 141 in the week ending January 7, 2012.

     The current circulating influenza viruses mainly include influenza A (H3N2) virus and influenza B virus.

     The CHP will continue to closely monitor the overseas and local situation of influenza activity. In addition, the CHP will collaborate with the Hospital Authority (HA) and private hospitals to enhance surveillance of influenza infection cases causing intensive care admission or death during the coming winter influenza season. At the same time, the CHP will continue to closely monitor cases involving severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/death.

     The CHP has sent letters to doctors and schools / institutions to alert them of the influenza situation and remind them to keep abreast of the latest developments.

     Influenza can cause medical complications, especially among vulnerable people such as the elderly, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. As the local influenza activity is expected to increase further during the next few weeks, target groups are advised to receive influenza vaccinations as soon as possible to protect their health.

     The public are reminded to take the following measures to prevent respiratory tract infection:

* Build up good body immunity by having a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking;
* Maintain good personal and environmental hygiene;
* Wash hands after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose;
* Maintain good indoor ventilation; and
* Avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation.

     Members of the public, particularly young children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases, should wear face masks and consult their doctors promptly if they develop influenza-like symptoms.

Ends/Monday, January 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:50


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