Seasonal flu activity off peak as cases continue to drop: CHP

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health reported on Wednesday that the local seasonal influenza activity and flu-related admissions to public hospitals continued to decrease over the past few weeks.

“Our latest surveillance data show that, after its peak in mid-July, the influenza activity has been on the decline as most parameters including laboratory surveillance, influenza-associated hospital admissions and institutional outbreaks have been decreasing in the past two to three weeks,” a spokesman for the CHP said.

The positive percentage of seasonal influenza viruses among respiratory specimens received by the CHP peaked at 40.86 percent in the week of July 9, then fell to 35.52 percent in the week of July 23, and further dropped to 25.28 percent in the week of July 30.

In the same period, the number of institutional outbreaks of influenza-like illness substantially decreased from 39 (affecting 222 persons) to 15 (73 persons).

This week, only three (12 persons) have been recorded as of Tuesday.

The average daily number of influenza cases admitted to public hospitals peaked at 350 per day in the seven-day period from July 11 to 17 and then steadily decreased to 135 per day from Aug. 2 to 8.

Regarding severe influenza among adults, 474 cases were admitted to intensive care units of public and private hospitals from May 5 to Tuesday, of which 337 resulted in deaths.

By comparison, there were 647 cases, including 501 deaths, during the winter flu season in 2015 and 409 cases, including 211 deaths, in 2016.

Among children, 19 severe flu cases, including three deaths, were reported from May 5 to Aug. 8. Since January, there have been 27 cases, including four deaths.

The average daily number of severe cases among all ages peaked at 11.3 per day in the seven-day period from July 12 to 18 and then gradually decreased to 7.9 per day from Aug. 2 to 8.

“As observed in previous seasons, we expect that local influenza will still be active for some time as it normally takes about two to three months for influenza activity to return to baseline from the peak,” the CHP spokesman said.

“Influenza is also active in the temperate Southern Hemisphere, parts of Southeast Asia, southern provinces in the mainland, Macau and Taiwan.”

The CHP advised the public, including travelers, “to stay vigilant and calm and not panic as strict personal, hand and environmental hygiene remains the most effective means against influenza”.

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