Death toll from flu in Hong Kong could be highest in 15 years

Death toll from flu in Hong Kong could be highest in 15 years

A scientist has warned that Hong Kong's flu epidemic is heading towards being responsible for the most deaths in 15 years

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People wait for treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The elderly and the seriously ill are the most vulnerable to the flu.
People wait for treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The elderly and the seriously ill are the most vulnerable to the flu.
Photo: Edward Wong/SCMP

Hong Kong could be having one of the most serious flu outbreaks in recent times, with the death toll from flu expected to be the highest in 15 years, according to a scientist.

The announcement came after 12 more people died from flu on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll so far this year to 157, with 236 people needing intensive care as of Monday.

Professor Paul Chan Kay-sheung of the Chinese University, a microbiologist, said that the city is halfway into the peak flu season, which could last between six and nine weeks.

Most of the deceased were the elderly or chronically ill, but this hasn't stopped 16-year-old PLK Vicwood KT Chong Sixth Form College student Sebastian Wong from worrying. "I am pretty scared and worried by the fact that so many people have already died because of the flu. It's not just students, but teachers at my school have also caught the flu and have been absent these past few weeks," said Sebastian. "I don't think that this should be happening because medicine and technology are improving every day; the death toll should be decreasing, instead of rising to be the highest in 15 years."

Renaissance College student Anushka Purohit, 15, is also worried.

"In my class, more than eight students have been absent, and it's not like they were just off school for one day," said Anushka.

Even students who are not in Hong Kong are worried about the outbreak, including Ng Lok-yan, a Chinese University student who is currently abroad on exchange. "I'm worried about my friends and family. Even though I am not in Hong Kong, I still read the news online and the flu makes me scared," said Ng. "I hope the government brings the situation under control as soon as possible."

But not everyone is worried. One such student is Henry Lui, a 15-year-old from Sha Tin College. "The cold weather really is quite worrying. Despite being a hypochondriac with OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder], I still managed to get slightly ill last week. Fortunately for me, I am neither chronically ill nor an old person so I don't have much to worry about," the English Schools Foundation student said. "The most that can happen to us teens is suffer a terrible cold."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Flu death toll could be highest in years

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