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End of winter influenza season 2016

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 18) announced the end of the winter influenza season 2016, which started in late January, as the latest surveillance data showed that the overall influenza activity had almost returned to baseline level.

     "The influenza activity peaked around late February and then slowly decreased. This season was dominated by influenza A(H1) in February, followed by both influenza A(H1) and B since March. Outbreaks in schools and influenza-like illness (ILI) consultation rates among sentinel private doctors in this season were relatively high compared to those in recent years," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     The percentage of respiratory tract specimens that tested positive for seasonal influenza viruses by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch peaked at 26.50 per cent in the week ending February 27 and returned to 9.46 per cent last week.

     Due to the predominance of influenza A(H1) this season, persons of younger age were particularly affected. Among ILI outbreaks this season, over half (56 per cent) occurred in primary schools, and about a quarter (26 per cent) in kindergartens and child care centres. The number of institutional ILI outbreaks peaked at 90 (affecting 984 persons) in the week ending March 5 and dropped to nine (41 persons) this week as of yesterday (May 17). The average ILI consultation rate among sentinel private doctors peaked at 82.3 cases per 1 000 consultations in the same week and fell to 43.4 last week, while that of General Out-patient Clinics fell from 11.7 to 6.5.

     In children under 18, in 2016, 27 cases of severe influenza-associated complication or death (including three deaths) were detected this season, with 17 influenza A(H1) cases, nine influenza B cases and one influenza A(H3) case. In 2015, 25 cases of severe influenza-associated complication or death (one death) were reported, and in 2014 the equivalent figures were 27 (four deaths).

     For adults aged 18 or above, in this season, 403 cases of influenza-associated admission to the Intensive Care Unit or death (including 205 deaths, 51 per cent) have been recorded during the enhanced surveillance period at public and private hospitals from January 29 to May 17. In the winter season in early 2015 and 2014, 647 (501 deaths, 77 per cent) and 266 (133 deaths, 50 per cent) were filed respectively.

     Over 587 000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines were administered via the Government Vaccination Programme (391 000) and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (196 000) as of May 15, rising 15 per cent from the same period in 2014/15.

     "Although the winter season has ended, citizens should continue to maintain hand, personal and environmental hygiene against various respiratory infections and other infectious diseases," the spokesman said.

     The public may visit the CHP's pages below for the latest information on influenza:

* The influenza page (; and
* The weekly Flu Express report (

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:49


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