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Flu fears linger as kindys reopen

Local | Jane Cheung Feb 12, 2019
Kindergartens and nurseries resumed classes yesterday after a prolonged Lunar New Year break due to the influenza outbreak. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said although the number of flu infections have gone down in the past few weeks, it still remains at a high level. Chan cited statistics from the Centre for Health Protection, which stated that the ratio of positive test results of influenza dropped from 25 percent two weeks ago to 20 percent last week. "Citizens in the high-risk groups should continue to maintain personal hygiene and receive flu vaccinations," she said. "As some schools have already resumed classes and most of them will be ending their Lunar New Year holiday by the end of this week, the center will continue to monitor the flu condition and take actions according." Chan also said public hospitals were not "as occupied" during the holiday, but the occupancy rate returned to high levels after the festive period. According to the Hospital Authority, the average occupancy rate at medical wards in 15 hospitals with Accident and Emergency departments was 107 percent and apart from Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, the other 14 hospitals were running beyond capacity. United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong had the highest occupancy rate at 124 percent. In response to the heavy workload and tremendous pressure that public doctors are facing, some people have suggested that the government should cut the quota that allows in 150 new immigrants from the mainland through the one-way permit scheme. This came after doctors, during a protest last month, revealed that they have seen new immigrants who actually live on the mainland come to Hong Kong only to receive medical treatment. But former secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said it is inappropriate to attribute the source of a problem to a specific group. Speaking on radio yesterday, Lai said that new immigrants are part of Hong Kong and citizens should embrace them. "[Locals] should help them blend in the big family rather than going the other way," he said. He added that new immigrants are not the only reason for the population increase in Hong Kong, adding that local women giving birth also play a part. New People's Party Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee chairwoman said statistics are needed to prove whether new immigrants are responsible for the health-care system being overloaded. "The Hospital Authority should collect data of its users and the figures will speak for themselves, rather than just depending on the experience of individual doctors," said Ip, also a former secretary for security. jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com


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