The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) announced on August 30 the end of the summer influenza season. 

"Hong Kong entered the summer influenza season in mid-May, which is earlier than the past seasons that usually occurred from July to September. The seasonal influenza (SI) activity increased steadily in June and rose sharply to a very high level in mid-July with some surveillance parameters surpassing their highest levels in recent years. It decreased notably in early August and returned to a baseline level in late August," a spokesman for the CHP said.

Apart from the number of cases, the positive percentage of SI viruses among respiratory specimens received by the CHP has dropped from 12.79% to 8.90% from the week of August 13 to that of August 20. The number peaked at 40.86% in the week of July 9.

In the same period, the number of institutional outbreaks of influenza-like illness decreased from seven (affecting 25 persons) to two (10 persons). As of August 29, one (five persons) has been recorded this week.

The average daily number of influenza cases admitted to public hospitals peaked at 350 per day in the seven-day period from July 11 to 17 and then steadily decreased to 32 per day recently (August 23 to 29).

Regarding severe influenza cases, in adults, 576 cases of influenza-associated admission to the Intensive Care Unit or death (including 428 deaths) were recorded from May 5 to August 29 in the enhanced surveillance with the Hospital Authority and private hospitals. In children, in the same period, 19 cases of severe influenza-associated complication or death (three deaths) were detected. The last case was reported on August 2. The average daily number of severe cases among all ages peaked at 11.3 per day in the seven-day period from July 12 to 18 and then gradually decreased to 2.7 per day recently (August 23 to 29).

"The number of inpatient admissions to medical wards via the Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) has dropped. Yet, not all of the patients admitted to hospitals are because of influenza. We still need to take care of the patients who might be suffering from other diseases or chronic illness," said Prof Sophia Chan, Secretary of Food and Health. "Prevention is always the most important. Later, I will attend meetings with DH and the Hospital Authority to discuss measures we can prepare for the upcoming winter influenza season." MIMS

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