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Hong Kong enters summer flu season

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (June 18) appealed to the public to stay vigilant against seasonal influenza as the latest surveillance data showed a continual increase in local influenza activity, signalling that Hong Kong had entered the summer influenza season.

     The percentage positive for seasonal influenza viruses increased to 19.6 per cent last week from 15.1 per cent in the week ending June 6 among respiratory specimens received by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch. Among influenza virus detections last week, 84 per cent were A(H3N2) while 15.2 per cent were B.

     Turning to influenza-like illness (ILI), 12 institutional outbreaks affecting 69 persons were recorded in the week ending June 13, increasing from 10 (51 persons) in the week ending June 6. As of yesterday, 11 (46 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 2.12 and 1.47 cases per 10 000 persons last week, both rising from 1.25 and 1.26 respectively in the previous week.

     Since June 12, the CHP has collaborated with the Hospital Authority and private hospitals to enhance surveillance over patients with severe influenza who required intensive care admission or died during the summer influenza season. As of June 17, 23 cases (including 16 deaths) have been reported. Among them, 14 were A(H3N2), four were A pending subtype and five were B. At the same time, the CHP will continue to closely monitor cases with severe paediatric (aged below 18 years) influenza-associated complications or deaths. As of June 17, no cases have been reported.

     The CHP has issued 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 as it will take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body, " the CHP spokesman said.

     "We will closely monitor overseas and local influenza activities as Hong Kong has entered the summer influenza season," 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 vaccination schemes page (;
* The list of participating doctors (;
* The Facebook Page(; and
* The YouTube Channel (

Ends/Thursday, June 18, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:08


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