The Government yesterday ordered the closure of all kindergartens and primary schools because of influenza for the first time since the swine flu outbreak 10 years ago. This year already 117 people, including two children, have died from complications after contracting flu.
The closure was announced after Chief Executive Carrie Lam met university microbiologists. Institutions with little children are hotbeds of transmission because the youngsters have little idea of hygiene and avoidance of contact with others.
The Centre for Health Protection gave this advice:
- Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places.
- Wash hands before touching eyes, nose or mouth, especially if you have been touching things in public places — handrails, door knobs, etc.
- High-risk people (children and seniors) should wear masks in crowded areas.
- Alcohol hand sanitisers help.
- Maintain good in-door ventilation.
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible because it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop after inoculation.
- Children who have fever and respiratory symptoms should not go back to school until 48 hours after the fever has subsided.
The Government said between January 7 and February 6 a total of 398 outbreaks of flu were detected across the city, mostly in kindergartens and primary schools. A total of 203 adults and 12 children have developed serious complications. In the worst cases — children and seniors — they may die.
The B influenza virus is to blame for this outbreak, returning after several years. The influenza scare is expected to last for some months. Then there will be another surge, this time of the more common A virus. This will lead to a dangerous “double peak”, the Government said.