Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Hong Kong Considers Early School Closures For Lunar New Year Due To Flu

Institutional Outbreaks Week 4


Hong Kong's winter flu epidemic - which officially began in early January - continues to rage, with influenza B outbreaks in schools and residential homes running roughly 3x's higher in the first three weeks than during any flu season in the past 4 years (see Hong Kong Flu Express Wk 4: Influenza Still Climbing

The latest hospital census (Feb 6th) shows occupancy rates at local hospitals averaging 112%, with some hospitals exceeding 120%.

With the Chinese or Lunar New Year set for Friday, Feb 16th, schools in Hong Kong are expected to be closed from Feb 16th-19th, but with hospitals clogged, vaccines running low, and institutional outbreaks increasing, officials are considering an early school closure for the New Year's holiday.

This from the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Lunar New Year holiday may start early for schools as Hong Kong’s leader meets experts to discuss fighting flu surge

More supplies of vaccines expected in coming weeks amid citywide shortage
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 10:58pm

The Lunar New Year holiday could start early for schoolchildren in Hong Kong as the city’s leader held urgent talks with experts to consider keeping pupils home to stem the surge of flu cases amid a shortage of vaccines.

The Centre for Health Protection is expected to announce flu control and prevention measures on Wednesday, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor met the city’s flu experts, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung and Chinese University professor of respiratory medicine Dr David Hui Shu-cheong, on Tuesday.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee also attended the meeting.
        (Continue . . . )

While H3N2 is dominant in North America, and H1N1 widely reported in the Middle East and on the Indian Subcontinent, Asia has mostly seen an Influenza B season this winter - possibly because Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China all saw an unusual late summer influenza A/H3N2 outbreak which only ended about 5 months ago.

So far, there is no official word from the CHP on whether to close the schools, but we should hear something in the next 12-24 hours.

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