The number of seasonal influenza deaths reported in Hong Kong has surpassed 400 with the latest tally at 408 since the beginning of the season.

Hong Kong/CIA
Hong Kong/CIA

This includes four additional flu deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

To date, the total number of cases of influenza-associated admission to intensive care units is now 541. The CHP notes, in the last winter season in early 2014, 266 cases (133 deaths) were filed.

In addition, Hong Kong health officials welcomed the recommendations on the use of the southern hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccine (SH SIV) by the CHP’s Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD).

“The SH SIV contains the currently predominant influenza A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus strain. Based on the risk assessment, the SCVPD recommends the elderly to be the priority group to receive the SH SIV to protect them from the possible summer influenza season. Besides, the SCVPD recommends all persons living in residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) to receive the SH SIV for the prevention of influenza outbreaks,” Dr Leung Ting-hung said today.

“The elderly, particularly the very old elderly, are the most vulnerable in this season as reflected by the high proportion of severe and fatal cases affecting the elderly, the high influenza admission rate among the elderly and the high proportion of RCHEs having outbreaks of influenza-like illness (ILI),” Dr Leung explained.

“The SH SIV, when available, may be given by phases starting from the oldest age group, such as those aged 85 or above, in the community first as they are at higher risk of developing severe illness after infecting influenza. Most of them also have pre-existing underlying illnesses predisposing them to severe illness,” Dr Leung remarked.

The first 100,000 doses of SH SIV is expected to be delivered in late April or early May, the vaccination program is preliminarily planned to be conducted in May and June.