Seven people die in space of five days as flu season gets off to deadly start in Hong Kong
- Six-year-old girl also critically ill as Centre for Health Protection urges children and elderly to get vaccinated
- Two other children in intensive care, while 18 more adults have severe case of influenza according to authorities
The flu season got off to a deadly start in Hong Kong claiming the lives of seven adults in the space of five days, health authorities said on Friday.
Another 18 adults reportedly have severe cases of influenza, while a 6-year-old girl is critically ill with severe paediatric influenza, according to the Department of Health. Two other children have also been taken ill with the disease.
The department’s Centre for Health Protection had warned of a surge in the rate of infection in the week the city entered the flu season, about a week earlier than last year.
According to figures provided by the department, which cover the period between Sunday and Thursday, six of the adults who died were aged 65 or over, while the seventh was over 50, while 84 per cent of the severe cases are related to influenza A (H1).
The department noted that the deaths “may be due to other acute medical conditions or underlying diseases”.
In the second week of 2018, when the winter peak season was announced, the department recorded 14 adults deaths among 23 severe cases.
The 6-year-old, who is in the paediatric intensive care unit at the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, fell sick on New Year’s Day, and according to authorities had not been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, a boy and a girl, both four years old, are also in serious condition, with the influenza A infection, and severe pneumonia.
Despite being vaccinated, the boy was admitted to hospital on December 31. He had travelled to Britain over Christmas.
The girl, who did not get the flu jab either, was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital on December 26.
Officials said they are investigating the three cases.
Dr Wong Ka-hing, controller of the Centre for Health Protection, said earlier that 960,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine had been administered by December 23, a more than 50 per cent increase compared with the same period last year.
He urged the public, especially children and the elderly, to get vaccinated as soon as possible as it usually took around two weeks for the body to develop antibodies after vaccination.
The story has been corrected because it previously stated that one child had died of flu. This is to clarify that the child was in intensive care in hospital with severe complications.