Peak of flu season yet to arrive, microbiologist saysLocal | 25 Jan 2019 12:10 pm
A top microbiologist warned today that the peak of the flu season is yet to come and said those who are in the high-risk category should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Ho Pak Leung, who heads the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection, said during the coming Lunar New Year holidays, the flow of visitors will add to the crowd in popular places and people going out to celebrate should be wear masks as a precaution.
Ho also said suspending schools to curtail a flu epidemic reflected a failure in Hong Kong's primary healthcare system.
Health officials announced yesterday that kindergartens and childcare centers would close from Saturday for Lunar New Year holidays – a week ahead of schedule – to help prevent the further spread of flu.
He said the government should have made the call earlier.
Ho said in making such a decision the administration should not just consider the number of flu cases, but also the overcrowded situation at public hospitals.
According to the latest figures, the overall occupation rate of public hospital beds stood at 108 percent. Tuen Mun Hospital was the worst, at 117 percent, followed by Tseung Kwan O Hospital.
Ho told RTHK’s Janice Wong that that in the long term, suspending classes during the flu season is not desirable, and only reflects a failure in Hong Kong's primary healthcare.
"I think there’s a need for us to rethink how we should implement a better primary healthcare system, in particular how to vaccinate children attending kindergartens and primary schools," he said.
The microbiologist urged the government to consider expanding a pilot service in which medical staff go to primary school to vaccinate students to kindergarten and daycare centers.