Flu in Hong Kong

Hong Kong schools take flu precautions as classes resume after extended Lunar New Year break

One institution has cancelled assemblies and taken records of pupils’ travel history in a bid to prevent further outbreaks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 10:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 11:08pm

Hong Kong schools have been taking extra precautions against flu, including cancelling assemblies and asking pupils where they have travelled, as most classes resumed on Monday after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

Pupils at most of the city’s 1,600 kindergartens, primary schools and special needs schools returned to class after an earlier festive break began on February 8, following a rare government decision to try to stop the spread of flu.

Before schools closed, most outbreaks of flu were seen in kindergartens and primary schools.

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Schools have now taken a range of measures to prevent flu cases as pupils return to class.

Cheung Chok-fong, principal of St Patrick’s School, said morning assemblies have been cancelled this week.

“We want to avoid children clustering together[to reduce risk of transmission],” said Cheung, adding the measure had also been in place for a week before the Lunar New Year break began.

Apart from the regular measures of doing temperature checks and asking pupils to wear masks on campus, Cheung said pupils were also required to submit a record of holiday travel to the school for better tracing in case of infection.

She said on Monday 10 of the some 600 pupils at her school had called in sick.

“Some had stomachache, and some others had cough or flu symptoms,” said Cheung.

Chu Tsz-wing, principal of Baptist Rainbow Primary School, said his school underwent a thorough cleansing last week.

Other hygiene measures, such as doing temperature checks at the school entrance, and placing masks and hand sanitisers around school, have continued.

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“We had very few pupils calling in sick today,” said Chu, whose school had arranged a vaccination service for pupils on campus. More than 70 per cent of pupils at his school have been vaccinated.

A father surnamed Ng, whose five-year-old son was studying in a kindergarten in Tseung Kwan O, said his son was required to wear a mask at school and bring three extra ones for replacement.

An extra temperature check during classes had been arranged, in addition to the first check when pupils enter the school.

Between January 7 and February 25, 410 adults were hit by severe flu, and 255 of them died. So far 15 children have been affected by severe flu and two have died.

Public hospitals remained busy amid the flu season. On Sunday, 5,440 people sought medical care from the city’s public emergency departments. Overall occupancy rate at the city’s medical wards was 115 per cent, an increase from 109 per cent on Saturday.