HONG KONG, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The health authority of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) reported on Wednesday appealed to the public for heightened vigilance as the region will enter the winter influenza season soon.
"Our latest surveillance data show that the local seasonal influenza activity steadily increased from a baseline level. We anticipate that the seasonal influenza activity will continue to increase and the winter influenza season in Hong Kong will arrive soon. Members of the public should maintain good personal protection against influenza," said a spokesman for the Center for Health Protection (CHP) of the HKSAR government's Department of Health.
The positive percentage of seasonal influenza viruses among respiratory specimens received by the CHP increased from 3.93 percent in the week ending Dec. 16 to 6.02 percent and 9.32 percent in the following two weeks.
The circulating influenza viruses in the past two weeks were predominantly influenza B, with low influenza A activity, the CHP said.
In the above period, the weekly average rate of the influenza-like illness (ILI) syndrome group in the accident and emergency departments increased from 161.3 cases per 1,000 coded cases to 170.2 and 196.1. The overall admission rate with principal diagnosis of influenza in public hospitals increased from 0.09 per 10,000 population to 0.15 and 0.23.
The CHP has enhanced surveillance in preparation for the winter influenza season. Since the start of this year, the CHP has collaborated with public hospitals under the Hospital Authority and private hospitals to monitor influenza-associated admissions to intensive care units and deaths among patients aged 18 years or above as routine surveillance operating throughout the year.
It will also issue letters to doctors, hospitals, institutions and schools to appeal for heightened vigilance and appropriate actions.
"Particularly, children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses are urged to get vaccinated as early as possible to prevent seasonal influenza as it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body after vaccination," the spokesman added.
As of Dec. 26, 2017, about 369,80 and 244,800 doses of seasonal influenza vaccines had been administered via the Government Vaccination Programme (free vaccination) and the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme (subsidized vaccination) respectively, increasing by 10 percent and 3.4 percent respectively from the same period of the 2016-17 season.