Early school closures prevented flu spread, study finds

Local | 12 Oct 2018 7:21 pm

Hong Kong University researchers said today that a study they have carried out shows the move to close schools early before the Chinese New Year in early February prevented more than 10,000 extra flu cases.

All primary schools and kindergartens were ordered to suspend classes the week before the holiday period was due to get underway, after more than 120 people had died from flu complications in the previous month or so, RTHK reports.

But the researchers stressed that while it was a good decision by the government to shut schools, vaccinations remain the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr Eric Lau, who was involved in the study that used simulation models to estimate flu cases in various scenarios, said if schools are to be closed, it is best to do it around the peak of an epidemic.

But he told RTHK's Wendy Wong that it is not that easy to forecast the pattern of a flu season.

"Currently, there is no existing influenza prediction model which is able to predict influenza activity at the very early stage," Lau said.

Asked whether schools should be closed again when there's a similar outbreak, Lau said there were various considerations, including which subtype of flu virus is involved.-Photo: RTHK

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