HONGKONG: Hong Kong officials and health workers are trying to subdue the spread of a deadly strain of the flu virus. Hospitals are reportedly facing a shortage of beds as the number of severe cases rise to at least 187 and more than 140 influenza-related deaths have been reported this flu season.
This strain of influenza is a mutated form of the virus labeled H3N2. The Hong Kong government is trying to control the spread of H3N2 by providing surgical masks in most public places. Health experts have also released an ad urging Hongkongers and people entering the area to get vaccinated and even to stay home if possible in order to lower the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
While this flu season seems to be overloading Hong Kong area hospitals, according to reports, this might not be that out of the ordinary for the region. According to Yuen Kwok-Yung who is the head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, a lack of beds in hospitals in this densely populated region is normal during flu season.
“That has always been so in winter. This is not something unusual.” Yuen said.
He also says that this spread of the virus could be worse. “The proportion of patients admitted to the ICU with severe influenza although [sic] is also high, but is not extraordinarily high when compared with [sic] past 10 or 20 years.” Yuen said.
Health experts are urging vulnerable groups like the elderly and pregnant women to wear the surgical protective masks which have become a common sight during flu season.
“I guess Hongkongers and Singaporeans have different take on life,” says Esmeralda Donka, f/34 a tarot card reader.
“If just one people had died due to flu in Singapore, it would have been a national calamity,” she added.