EG.5 variant of the Omicron strain spreading in multiple cities, but no cases detected in Hong Kong, says local expert

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23rd September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The EG.5 variant, belonging to the Omicron strain of the novel coronavirus, is rapidly spreading and becoming dominant in the United States. However, according to Professor David Hui, a respiratory system specialist from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, this variant has not yet appeared in Hong Kong. While EG.5 constitutes approximately 26.1% of global cases, no related cases have been identified in Hong Kong at present. Although EG.5 is highly transmissible, it does not appear to increase the severity of the disease. World Health Organisation data indicates an increase in COVID-19 infection cases in recent times in countries such as South Korea, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore. Additionally, these countries, along with Russia and mainland China, have reported multiple fatalities due to the virus.

In terms of influenza, Professor Hui mentioned that the infection rate started to rise from the 34th week of this year and gradually declined three weeks later. Since the onset of the summer flu season, Hong Kong has recorded eight severe paediatric influenza cases, of which only two individuals had received the flu vaccine. The situation requires ongoing observation to determine the overall trend. Professor Hui emphasised that if children contract influenza and develop complications such as encephalitis, it could lead to severe long-term consequences, including impaired cognitive abilities. Furthermore, influenza can also result in prolonged hospitalisation or lung fibrosis. He advised parents to take advantage of the upcoming influenza vaccination program and arrange for their children to be vaccinated.