Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Friday, Mar 01, 2024

‘Hong Kong could face bigger flu outbreak this winter due to weakened immunity’

‘Hong Kong could face bigger flu outbreak this winter due to weakened immunity’

Residents wearing masks during Covid-19 pandemic contributed to flu cases becoming ‘almost extinct’, Hospital Authority’s Dr Michael Wong says.

Hong Kong may face a bigger flu outbreak this winter compared with recent years due to weakened immunity among residents, health authorities have warned, as they announced plans to cope with a possible surge in cases.

Dr Michael Wong Lap-gate, chief manager of cluster performance at the Hospital Authority, on Wednesday said the number of patients in emergency rooms per day could increase from the current 5,000 to pre-pandemic levels of 6,000 in a worst-case scenario.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, residents have been putting on masks daily, so flu infections have almost become extinct. Our immunity against the flu has weakened over time,” he said during a media briefing.

The number of patients in emergency rooms per day could increase to pre-pandemic levels, Wong has warned.

“If an outbreak of influenza emerges this year, it may be more serious than before.”

Wong also warned that the cold weather this winter could lead to an increase in the number of medical ward admissions from a few hundred to more than 1,000 per day, similar to pre-pandemic levels.

He explained that the burden on public hospitals grew during winter each year due to high rates of chronic illnesses and flu cases during the chilly weather, as well as more private doctors travelling during the holidays.

He urged the public to avoid using emergency rooms for non-urgent situations and get vaccinated as soon as possible for the seasonal flu and Covid-19.

Health authorities have previously warned of the threat posed by both the peak flu season and the Covid-19 pandemic in the winter, as the city gradually relaxed social-distancing restrictions.

Hong Kong on Wednesday logged 8,810 Covid-19 infections, 657 of which were imported and 16 additional deaths, bringing the city’s total tally to 2,118,245 cases and 10,747 fatalities.

The Hospital Authority has allocated about HK$790 million (US$10.12 million) to deal with the potential increase in demand for services. More temporary beds will be set up according to needs at public hospitals, in addition to about 400 new permanent beds.

Quotas at the government’s general outpatient clinics will be increased by a total of 18,000, with 3,500 being allocated for long holiday periods. Healthcare staff will take on extra shifts, while more part-time employees will be hired to ease a manpower crunch.

Health authorities said they would put more effort in preventing unnecessary hospital admissions by ramping up laboratory testing services, ward rounds, support for hospital discharge and transfer, and geriatric support at accident and emergency services.
Patients waiting at the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong.

Dr Maria Leung Kwan-wa, chief of service at the department of family medicine at the New Territories East Cluster, said the proportion of flu infections was still lower than pre-pandemic levels, reaching nearly 1 per cent in the past week, up slightly from more than 0 per cent.

“Since February 2020, flu cases have been on the low side and we didn’t have any winter surges in the past two years. But people have started to travel around to other countries,” she said.

Pointing to outbreaks in countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia, Leung said flu infections might continue to rise in Hong Kong but stopped short of predicting the scale of a potential outbreak.

Wong of the Hospital Authority said non-emergency services at public hospitals had not been adjusted, but he did not rule out the possibility of suspending such services if the Covid-19 situation worsened in the city.

“We understand that as anti-epidemic control normalises, we expect some patients among the few thousands of infections per day will require hospitalisation,” he said.

“We hope we can utilise our beds as effectively as possible so we do not have to adjust our non-emergency services.”


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.