The Year of the Pig is expected to start with warm and humid weather in Hong Kong but doctors are still urging the public to guard against flu after the rampant spread of the virus this winter. Sunday will go into the record books as the second warmest penultimate day of the lunar year in 96 years. With sunshine and light winds, the temperature hit 25.4 degrees Celsius at the Hong Kong Observatory’s headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui in the afternoon, surpassing the 24.7 degrees in 1956, but a degree lower than the 26.3 record set in 1923. The weather is set to remain mild throughout Lunar New Year, with sunny intervals during the first day on Tuesday and one or two light rain patches in the morning. Temperatures will range from 18 to 22 degrees. Australia, New Zealand sizzle ahead of Lunar New Year tourist surge The warm spell will persist into the latter part of the week, with humidity slowly building to 95 per cent by Wednesday or Thursday, and the mercury rising to 23 or 24 degrees. But coastal fog could put a dampener on the city’s annual Lunar New Year fireworks display on Wednesday evening. According to the Observatory, the warmest ever start to the new year was recorded in 2007, when the maximum temperature hit 25.3 degrees. The mild period this year comes after a January in which flu outbreaks forced the closure of all Hong Kong’s kindergartens and childcare centres, which began their Lunar New Year holiday a week early. While the situation appeared to be easing, medical experts urged people to remain vigilant. At least 30 outbreaks of the flu were recorded at schools and other institutions such as elderly care centres in the past week – a drastic drop from the 211 in the previous seven days. The Centre for Health Protection said about 25 per cent of respiratory specimens received by its laboratory in the second to last week of January were found to contain flu viruses – a decrease from 30 per cent in the week before. ‘I feel like I could work to death’: Hong Kong’s weary nurses share tales amid peak flu season surge and hospital chaos Since the start of the winter flu season in late December, at least 264 adults and 21 children have caught flu classed as severe. Some 126, mostly elderly, have died, and one child also lost his life. Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, an expert in respiratory medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said flu viruses were in general less active when the temperature climbed above 20 degrees, but he still called on people to take precautions. “Temperature itself does not determine everything,” he said. Assessing when the peak flu season was ending depended on several factors, Hui added, such as the percentage of flu-positive respiratory specimens hitting a baseline of 10 per cent, and all age groups seeing a decline in cases, as well as a decrease in hospitalisations. “From the start of the flu season, it usually takes four to six weeks to reach the peak, and then six to eight weeks to come down to the baseline level,” Hui said. ‘Cold as ºF’: polar vortex puts US Midwest in a deep freeze A boy and a girl, both six, were reported to be in a serious condition on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, after catching influenza A. Neither had been vaccinated against flu this winter. The boy had recently visited Shenzhen but the girl had not travelled outside Hong Kong during the incubation period. The boy suffered convulsions on Friday and was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam. The girl, who also had severe pneumonia, was admitted to the same hospital on Saturday. “We expect that local influenza activity may remain at an elevated level for some time,” a spokesman for the centre said.