The health chief said the swine flu peak was approaching an end - though three patients died of the virus yesterday. Two women, aged 47 and 74, died in Tuen Mun Hospital and another, 18, died in Kwong Wah Hospital, Yau Ma Tei.
Speaking on Commercial Radio, Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok said the peak of the influenza, officially called A(H1N1), would not last long.
'The situation this week has alleviated when compared with the situation last week.'
He said that although there were daily outbreaks in schools, there were not too many cases and they were mild and not spreading rapidly.
'Although the number of patients [who died of swine flu was] 20 this month, I believe the number will fall in March and there is no need to suspend classes.'
There were two newly confirmed swine flu cases yesterday - a 55-year-old woman at Kwong Wah Hospital and a 53-year-old man at North District Hospital, Sheung Shui. They were treated with Tamiflu and were in critical condition, a Hospital Authority spokesman said.
There were 20 flu patients in intensive care units of public hospitals as of 2pm yesterday, he said.
On the possibility of industrial action by doctors at public hospitals due to heavy workload and low morale, Chow said after the radio programme that he believed doctors would not endanger patients' safety.
'Our doctors are very professional and they also have a very strong, passionate attitude towards their patients.'
He said the government would address their concerns to cope with their stress and long hours.
'I think it is important for the management to work together with the front line to ensure a suitable resolution can be achieved.'
Taking its toll
The health chief says the number of deaths from swine flu this month was: 20