Cold snap puts more than 250 elderly people in hospital

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am

But recent frost is likely to give way to warmer weather

More than 250 elderly people have been admitted to hospital during the cold snap, with a frost warning being issued for two days running.

The Observatory issued the second frost warning at 4.30pm yesterday, expecting temperatures to remain at 11 degrees Celsius in the city overnight and a few degrees lower in the New Territories. Tomorrow and Thursday will be warmer, with temperatures ranging between 14 and 19 degrees.

The Observatory issued the first frost warning of the winter on Sunday night when temperatures fell to 10.9 degrees in the city, with the lowest reading of 6 degrees recorded at Ta Kwu Ling, while readings of 9 degrees were recorded in Tai Po, Tsuen Wan and Shek Kong.

Frost was seen on vegetation in Sha Tau Kok before dawn yesterday but farmers said their crops had not been damaged, although vegetables had been growing more slowly in the cold weather.

A total of 385 people took refuge from the cold in temporary shelters on Sunday night.

The Senior Citizens Home Safety Association had received 1,056 calls for assistance from elderly people by 9pm last night, with 99 resulting in admission to hospital.

The association received 1,121 and 975 calls, respectively, for help on Saturday and Sunday. Most were seeking aid such as blankets, but 74 elderly people were admitted to hospital on Saturday and 91 on Sunday, a spokesman said. Many were suffering from breathing difficulties, chest pains or dizziness. The increase in cases on the second night showed many elderly people could no longer tolerate the cold weather, the spokesman said.

Restaurants serving seasonal dishes have seen their business increase in the past few days. She Wong Yee in Causeway Bay specialising in snake soup, renowned for keeping the body warm, saw its business rise 30 per cent to 40 per cent at the weekend, a staff member said.

Tai Woo Seafood Restaurant, also in Causeway Bay, experienced increased demand for winter dishes, with the manager saying the 250-seat eatery received more than 50 orders for mutton cooked in clay pots on one night.

In Shenzhen, the cold is believed to have contributed to the death of a Hong Kong man in his apartment, the newspaper New Express reported yesterday. The man, believed to be in his mid-80s, was found dead in his living room on Sunday morning wearing a thin layer of clothing.