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19-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Health authorities have told almost 200 Hong Kong kindergartens and childcare centres with outbreaks of seasonal influenza to close for a week to curb further spread of the disease.

The Centre for Health Protection said about 20 per cent of such facilities in the city should suspend classes from Saturday after at least 191 reported flu outbreaks.

“Outbreaks at kindergartens and childcare centres are at a critical stage, with the number of cases at a very high level,” Dr Wong Ka-hing, the centre’s controller, said.

An outbreak at a school is defined by the centre as three flu cases in four days.

Four outbreaks affecting a total of 85 pupils were reported on Thursday at kindergartens in Sha Tin, Kowloon City and Central, and a primary school in Eastern district.

A total of 251 outbreaks had been reported in schools and other institutions, such as elderly care centres, as of January 16.

Some 44 people have died since Hong Kong entered the peak flu season, 36 of whom were older than 65. A total of 107 serious flu cases have been identified.

“The latest data shows local influenza activity has increased markedly in the last week,” the centre’s weekly publication Flu Express wrote on Thursday.

On the same day, Pooi To Primary School Kindergarten in Kowloon City and Yuen Long Lutheran Life Kindergarten both announced classes were suspended as a result of a flu outbreak.

Parents received a notice from Lutheran Life announcing the suspension would start on Friday and run until January 25.

“[We have] received reports of pupils with high fever … and one being admitted to hospital,” the school’s notice said. “[We have] reported the matter to the Centre for Health Protection and staff replied on the same day confirming a small outbreak took place.”

The Yuen Long school said all activities were cancelled and the campus would be disinfected.

Pooi To in Ma Tau Wai announced kindergarten classes would be suspended from Monday to Friday, but the primary school would open as usual until further notice.

Lam Chui-ling, the principal of Tsuen Wan Trade Association Chu Cheong Kindergarten, said her facility had not been told to suspend classes because it had only one reported flu case. But she said the government should consider bringing forward the start of the Lunar New Year holiday for kindergartens to as early as next week to avoid any further spread of the illness.

Lam said it was worrying that about 20 per cent of kindergartens in Hong Kong had reported outbreaks.

“The major infection source is through contact at school such as with saliva,” Lam said. “I think advancing the holiday could cut off the source of contagion.”

She said her kindergarten would require children to wear surgical masks from next week. About 90 per cent of the children had been vaccinated, she added.


Category: Hong Kong

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