COVID-19 infections hit six-month peak as flu deaths rise by over 85% weekly

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29th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has reported that the week of 18th to 24th February saw the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in six months, with an alarming spike in flu cases continuing for the fourth consecutive week. The number of outbreak reports has surged more than sixfold from the previous week, with influenza-related deaths escalating by over 85%.

During this period, 8,766 respiratory specimens were collected, of which 1,297 tested positive for the novel coronavirus, translating to a positivity rate of 14.8%. This figure surpasses any recorded in the past half-year. Concurrently, 20 outbreaks were reported in schools and care homes, affecting more than a hundred individuals, marking a substantial increase from the week prior.

The dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus identified in severe and fatal cases is the JN.1 lineage and its derivatives, accounting for approximately 96% of all analysed samples. Despite JN.1’s prevalence, there is currently no evidence to suggest it causes more severe illness than the XBB lineage or its descendants.

In the realm of influenza, there were 702 positive cases out of 10,370 respiratory samples, with a detection rate of 6.77%. The hospital admission rate stood at 0.43 per 10,000 people, a slight decrease from the previous week but still significantly above the baseline. Of the 37 severe adult influenza cases recorded, 26 resulted in fatalities—an increase of over 85% from the 14 deaths reported in the preceding week. Reports of influenza outbreaks in schools and institutions also rose dramatically, with 14 occurrences affecting 71 individuals, a nearly eightfold increase weekly.