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CHP investigates case of severe paediatric influenza A infection
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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 8) investigating a case of severe paediatric influenza A infection and reminded the community to heighten vigilance against influenza. The 2023/24 seasonal influenza vaccination programmes have started and the CHP appealed to members of the public to receive free seasonal influenza vaccination (SIV) to better protect themselves in the coming influenza season.

     The case involves an 11-year-old boy with underlying illnesses living on the Mainland. He developed fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath on January 2. He travelled to Hong Kong and visited a private doctor for medical attention on that day, and returned to the Mainland on the same day. He visited the Accident and Emergency Department of Prince of Wales Hospital on January 6 due to persistent symptoms. He was admitted on the same day and was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for management. His respiratory specimen was positive for influenza A (H3) virus upon laboratory testing. The clinical diagnosis was influenza A infection complicated with pneumonia. He is now in serious condition.

     Initial enquiries by the CHP revealed that the patient had not received SIV for this season and had stayed on the Mainland during the incubation period. One of his home contacts is currently symptomatic. The CHP's investigations are ongoing.

     A spokesman for the CHP said, "Influenza can cause serious illnesses in high-risk individuals and even healthy persons. SIV is one of the most effective means to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications, as well as reducing influenza-related hospitalisation and death. SIV is recommended for all persons aged 6 months or above except those with known contraindications. Persons at higher risk of getting influenza and its complications, including the elderly and children, should receive SIV early. As it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies, members of the public are advised to receive SIV early for protection against seasonal influenza. Please see details of the vaccination schemes on the CHP's website."

     A person who gets influenza and COVID-19 at the same time may be more seriously ill and would have a higher risk of death. It is important to receive both SIV and COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, in particular for children and elderly persons residing in the community or residential care homes. The public should also maintain good personal and environmental hygiene against influenza and other respiratory illnesses and note the following:
 
  • Surgical masks can prevent transmission of respiratory viruses from ill persons. It is essential for persons who are symptomatic (even if having mild symptoms) to wear a surgical mask;
  • For high-risk persons (e.g. persons with underlying medical conditions or persons who are immunocompromised), wear a surgical mask when visiting public places. The public should also wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. It is important to wear a mask properly, including performing hand hygiene before wearing and after removing a mask;
  • Avoid touching one's eyes, mouth and nose;
  • 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;
  • Cover the mouth and nose with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly into a lidded rubbish bin, and wash hands thoroughly afterwards;
  • Maintain good indoor ventilation;
  • When having respiratory symptoms, wear a surgical mask, refrain from work or attending classes at school, avoid going to crowded places and seek medical advice promptly; and
  • Maintain a balanced diet, perform physical activity regularly, take adequate rest, do not smoke and avoid overstress.

     ‚ÄčThe public may visit the CHP's influenza page and weekly COVID-19 & Flu Express for more information.
 
Ends/Monday, January 8, 2024
Issued at HKT 17:15
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