Five more flu patients died on Tuesday, pushing the number of victims to 64 so far this year, and officials warned the virus could last well into April and claim more than 200 lives. Patients in intensive care on Monday night included a two-year-old girl whose condition was described as serious.
The grim forecast came from the Hospital Authority's chief infection control officer, Dr Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong, who said he expected the winter flu peak to last six to 12 more weeks. He also predicted that the infection rate would not be at its worst for three more weeks.
The third week of the year alone claimed 31 lives, the highest weekly death toll from flu in five years.
"We've observed that the winter flu season is starting a few weeks earlier this year," Tsang said on Tuesday, adding that hospitals had begun to use stricter measures to control the spread of the virus.
With the epidemic adding a huge burden to public hospitals, staff were trying their best to group flu patients in the same medical wards but facilities were limited, he said.