SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Hong Kong informs public of influenza activity increase

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection called on the public on Monday to maintain vigilance against seasonal flu as local influenza activity rose to signal the start of the winter flu season.

The CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch detected an increase in the number of influenza detections from 65 in the week ending December 7 to 245 in the week ending on Saturday. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus increased from 2.5 percent in the week ending December 8 to 8.3 percent in the week ending December 29.

Hong Kong's CHP found the most virulent circulating influenza virus in the past week was influenza A H3N2 with 50.6 percent. Influenza A H1N1pdm09 was found in 30.2 percent of tested specimens and influenza B was found in 18.8 percent of specimens. The CHP said the viruses matched up well with the current vaccine viruses in Hong Kong.

The CHP is collaborating with hospitals to reactivate the enhanced surveillance system to monitor influenza-associated deaths and intensive care unit admissions since Friday. There were five cases of influenza-associated ICU admissions between Friday and Monday.

Hong Kong's Department of Health plans to closely monitor cases related to severe pediatric influenza-associated complications or deaths. There were no pediatric cases of influenza-associated severe complications in 2014 as of Monday.

The CHP also sent letters to private hospitals, doctors and schools to alert them of the influenza situation, reminding them to stay up to date on the latest developments.

Influenza may cause medical complications, particularly among vulnerable populations such as young children, the elderly and individuals with chronic medical conditions.