Flu infection peak looms, say officials

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 February, 2011, 12:00am

This year's swine flu outbreak may not have reached 2009 levels, but health officials warn that the infection peak has yet to come.

'We cannot be careless. The numbers can climb and we have to keep a close watch,' said Dr Thomas Tsang Ho-fai, controller of the Centre for Health Protection.

Currently, about five in every 10,000 children aged one to four are being admitted to hospital weekly with flu symptoms. This compares with 6.5 in the summer of 2009 and four in 2007.

Of people aged 15 to 64, about 110 are admitted each week due to flu. This is less than the 200 people in 2009, but much more than about 50 in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

One of the characteristics of swine flu is that it affects young people more than older people. As the dominant strain this year is swine flu, more young people are being admitted.

Tsang warned the number of outbreaks at schools could surge in the next few weeks as they resumed after the Lunar New Year holiday.

As of 2pm yesterday, two more people had been admitted to intensive care with swine flu, taking the total to 39. They included a 61-year-old woman in Prince of Wales Hospital and an 18-year-old man in Queen Mary Hospital.

Six male patients and a staff member at Castle Peak Hospital had shown flu symptoms since Saturday. The six patients were confirmed as having swine flu and isolated in Tuen Mun Hospital. The staff member recovered and resumed work.

Meanwhile, Shenzhen reported its first fatal case of swine flu this year. A 55-year-old man, who had chronic respiratory illnesses, was visiting relatives in the city. He was admitted to hospital on January 21 with fever and flu symptoms and his condition deteriorated on Tuesday. He died yesterday afternoon.