All kindergartens in Hong Kong will be closed from Saturday (January 26) until February 11 in an attempt to curb the spread of the ongoing flu outbreak. More than 1,000 centres will start the Chinese New Year break early – the second consecutive year the holiday has been brought forward due to flu. This includes all five English Schools Foundation (ESF) International Kindergartens: Abacus, Hillside, Tsing Yi, Tung Chung and Wu Kai Sha.
More than 200 kindergartens and childcare centres across Hong Kong were shut for a week starting from January 21 due to high levels of flu cases during this winter peak season. Today, The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health made the decision to suspend classes at all kindergartens and childcare centres; term will now finish this Saturday and classes will resume after the Chinese New Year holiday.
Kindergartens in all 18 districts of Hong Kong have recorded cases of the flu, but Kowloon City, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun have been the worst affected. Local seasonal influenza activity has continued to increase in the past two weeks and is expected to remain at an elevated level for some time. The circulating influenza viruses are predominantly Influenza A.
Young children aged below six years are particularly affected during this season. The majority of flu outbreaks are in kindergarten and childcare centres (70%), followed by primary schools (16%). The outbreak at primary school this year is only at a medium level and less severe compared to kindergartens; primary and secondary schools will remain open as normal.
The CHP is urging parents to get their young children vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent further cases of the flu. Dr SK Chuang from the CHP said:
“Particularly, children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses are urged to receive influenza vaccination as early as possible to prevent seasonal influenza as it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body after vaccination.
“They should promptly seek medical advice if influenza-like symptoms develop so that appropriate treatment can be initiated as early as possible to prevent potential complications.”