At least 74 people have died since December 30 amidst the ongoing winter flu season in Hong Kong. In addition, 372 kindergartens and childcare centers have suspended classes as of January 24, up from 234 on January 19, according to Chinanews.com.
At a press conference held on January 18, the Center for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong announced that they have recorded 251 flu outbreaks in the city since the flu season started. Those outbreaks have resulted in a total of 1,762 people infected by the virus. According to the CHP, an outbreak is when a school records three or more new cases within four days.
Statistics show that children under the age of six have accounted for over 70 percent of all infected patients.
Wong Ka-hing, head of the Center for Health Protection, described the outbreak during the press conference as being at a “critical stage” and said that it will likely affect more people.
The massive spike in flu patients around the city has put increased pressure on hospitals. The medical inpatient bed occupancy rates in 16 public hospitals rose to as high as 119 percent as of January 22.
As a result of the epidemic, many nurses have had to work extra shifts to take care of their patients, with many of these hospital workers now planning to protest in order to demand increased hospital manpower, according to South China Morning Post.
In a bid to stop the pandemic from spreading further, the CHP has promised to increase patient beds in public hospitals, while also encouraging schools with an outbreak to suspend classes for a week.
Children and people over 50 are being urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Currently, less than 30 percent of preschool children have been vaccinated, said a spokesperson during the press conference.
[Cover image via Sina.com]