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Influenza activity in Hong Kong increasing

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (June 10) appealed to the public to stay vigilant against seasonal influenza as the latest surveillance data showed an increase in local influenza activity, an indicator of the impending arrival of the summer influenza season.

     The percentage positive for seasonal influenza viruses increase to 14.8 per cent last week from 8.0 per cent in the week ending May 23 among respiratory specimens received by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch. Among influenza virus detections last week, 78.1 per cent were A(H3N2) while 21.3 per cent were B.

     Turning to influenza-like illness (ILI), 10 institutional outbreaks affecting 48 persons were recorded in the week ending June 6 , increasing from three (18 persons) in the week ending May 16. As of yesterday, eight (40 persons) had been recorded so far this week.

     The influenza-associated admission rate in public hospitals among children aged under five and the elderly aged 65 or above was respectively 1.21 and 1.06 cases per 10 000 persons last week, both rising from 0.72 and 0.71 respectively in the previous week.

     To further monitor local influenza activity and the severity of illness, as in previous influenza seasons, the CHP will collaborate with public hospitals under the Hospital Authority and private hospitals to reactivate the enhanced surveillance of influenza-associated admissions to Intensive Care Units and deaths aged 18 years or above as soon as possible.

     The CHP will issue letters to doctors and private hospitals and schools/institutions to remind them the increasing influenza activity in Hong Kong.

     "We appeal to elderly persons aged 80 or above to come forward to receive the Southern Hemisphere Seasonal Influenza vaccination to gain early protection before the risk of the summer influenza season as it will take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body, " the CHP spokesman said.

      Latest surveillance data indicated that some areas in Australia (Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia) showed an increase of influenza notification recently while other places (Victoria and New South Wales) stay at baseline levels. The number of laboratory influenza notification from Jan to May of 2015 increased by 44 per cent as compared with that in the same period in 2014.
     "We will closely monitor overseas and local influenza activities as the summer influenza season approaches," the spokesman said.

     The public should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene against influenza and other respiratory illnesses:

* Receive seasonal influenza vaccination for personal protection;
* Wash hands with liquid soap and water properly whenever possibly contaminated;
* When hands are not visibly soiled, clean them with 70 to 80 per cent alcohol-based handrub;
* Wash or clean hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, or after touching public installations such as handrails or door knobs;
* Cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and wash hands thoroughly afterwards;
* Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin;
* Put on a surgical mask when respiratory symptoms develop;
* Maintain good indoor ventilation;
* When influenza is prevalent, avoid going to crowded or poorly ventilated public places; high-risk individuals may consider putting on surgical masks when staying in such places; and
* Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, take adequate rest, do not smoke and avoid overstress.

     The public may visit the CHP's pages below for more information:

* The influenza page (;
* The weekly Flu Express report (;
* The update on severe seasonal influenza cases (;
* The vaccination schemes page (;
* The list of participating doctors (;
* The Facebook Page(; and
* The YouTube Channel (

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:59


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