Continued hygiene against respiratory diseases advised beyond winter influenza season

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (April 13) announced the end of the winter influenza season. Members of the public are however advised to continue to maintain personal, hand and environmental hygiene against respiratory diseases.

     "Hong Kong entered the winter influenza season in mid-February, which was later than the usual time around late December or January. The influenza activity then increased for a few weeks, subsequently decreased in March and returned to the baseline level in early April. While the rise in influenza activity was modest, the predominating influenza A(H3N2) virus mainly affected the elderly," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Further to the enhanced surveillance announced on February 22, the positive percentage of seasonal influenza viruses among respiratory specimens received by the CHP peaked at 9.38 per cent in the week of February 26 and decreased to 5.74 per cent in that of April 2.

     In the same period, the number of institutional outbreaks of influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased from 23 (affecting 145 persons) to seven (27 persons). As of yesterday (April 12), two ILI outbreaks affecting eight persons were recorded this week.

     For adults, 66 cases of influenza-associated admission to the Intensive Care Unit or death (including 41 deaths) were recorded during the enhanced surveillance with the Hospital Authority and private hospitals from February 24 to yesterday. In the winter influenza season in early 2016 and 2015, 409 (211 deaths) and 647 (501 deaths) were filed respectively.

     In children, eight cases of severe influenza-associated complication or death (including one death) have been detected so far in 2017, with six influenza A(H3N2), one influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and one influenza B cases. In 2016 and 2015, 31 (four deaths) and 25 (one death) were reported.

     As of April 9, about 410 000 and 285 000 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines had been administered via the Government Vaccination Programme (free vaccination) and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (subsidised vaccination) respectively, increasing by 6.2 per cent and 48.6 per cent from the same period in the last season.

     "Although the winter influenza season has ended, the public should continue to adopt personal, hand and environmental hygiene practices against respiratory illnesses and other infectious diseases," the spokesman said.

     More details of the latest seasonal influenza situation will be reported in the weekly Flu Express and bi-weekly Communicable Diseases Watch later today.

Ends/Thursday, April 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:30