Hong Kong shivers through cold snap, but warmer weather is on the way, Observatory says
Elderly with ‘less insulating fat’ at higher risk in the colder weather, government says
Hong Kong woke to a cold and damp morning on Saturday, as temperatures fell to as low as 10.7 degrees – the lowest recorded this winter.
An intense monsoon from the northeast was bringing a cold and cloudy weekend to Guangdong and Hong Kong, according to the Observatory.
A cold weather alert was issued at 4.20pm on Thursday and remains in force.
The Home Affairs Department opened 17 temporary shelters on Friday for those in need of assistance.
The Centre for Health Protection urged the elderly and people with chronic illnesses to take extra precautions during the cold snap.
“The elderly have less insulating fat beneath their skin to keep them warm and their body temperature control mechanism may be weaker. Their body may not be able to appropriately respond to the cold weather,” a spokesman said.
According to a spokesman for the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, since midnight, 517 senior citizens used their call service asking for assistance.
More than 40 people required hospitalisation, mostly for shortness of breath or falling down.
The weather will remain cold and wet on Sunday, with temperatures ranging between 12 and 16 degrees. But it is set to warm up next week, with temperatures rising gradually from Monday, the Observatory said.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the city had now entered the peak winter flu season, albeit late.
He said the number of flu cases was on the rise, and he expected the peak period to last until May – one month later than in previous years.
“We have now officially entered the peak season for influenza as the number of cases are increasing substantially, and the temperature only now seems to be falling,” he said.
“The summer influenza peak also arrived late last year, which may be another reason why the winter peak season came late.”