PRO/AH/EDR> Influenza (10): China (Hong Kong) influenza A, fatal, RFI


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 5 Aug 2023
Source: South China Morning Post [edited]

A spike in flu cases in Hong Kong could soon become “a small-scale
outbreak”, a government health adviser has warned, appealing to
parents to get their children inoculated following the death of a 4th
unvaccinated child in the past week.

Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, from the Chinese University of Hong
Kong, on Saturday [5 Aug 2023] predicted it would not take long for
the proportion of respiratory specimens handled by public laboratories
that tested positive for flu to increase from 8.6% to 9.2%, which
indicated an epidemic.

“I believe it will only take a short period of time … and then there
will be a small outbreak,” he told a radio programme, noting that the
4 children who died after contracting the flu this year [2023] were

“They were relatively young and had weak resistance. Once they were
exposed to the influenza virus, it became very serious, often with
necrotising encephalitis.”

The latest fatal case involved a 2-year-old boy who tested positive
for influenza A and died on 28 Jul 2023.

The Centre for Health Protection under the Department of Health said
the child had a fever and cough before suffering convulsions and was
admitted to hospital. He was diagnosed with acute necrotising
encephalopathy complicated by respiratory failure.

According to statistics published on Thursday [3 Aug 2023] , 8.64% of
respiratory specimens handled by public laboratories tested positive
for flu, higher than 8.57% recorded the week before, but below the
baseline threshold level of 9.2%.

On Saturday [5 Aug 2023], family doctor Edmund Lam Wing-wo told the
Post he had seen an uptick in cases in the past 3 weeks, but fewer
than during a similar time span during the flu season in April and May

He urged residents, particularly the unvaccinated, to practise good
personal hygiene, get tested if they developed symptoms such as a
fever and coughing, and consult a doctor.

The most vulnerable, such as the very young and very old, should
especially get their flu shots, he said.

Hong Kong has 2 flu seasons, one beginning in April and the second
starting in August.

“We are worried that after mid-August [2023] when kindergartens resume
class and then primary schools in September [2023], if the influenza
activity is still high, then it may persist and affect those
[children], particularly who are unvaccinated,” Hui said.

Wearing a mask was a personal choice, and residents had to balance
going about their daily lives with preventing infection, he said. But
for those who chose not to wear the face coverings, they could still
avoid joining social gatherings when ill and ensure they washed their
hands before eating, he advised.

[Byline: Laura Westbrook]

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