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Private docs to offer flu help 2015.02.12
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WITH public hospitals under severe pressure due to seasonal flu cases, the Hospital Authority (HA, 醫院管理局) is discussing with the Medical Council (醫務委員會) to see if more private doctors will stay on over the Lunar New Year holidays.

The death toll from the flu epidemic has reached 142 since 2 January, with two more fatalities on Monday.

According to the Centre for Health Protection (衛生防護中心), a total of 218 cases of influenza-associated admission to intensive care units or deaths were recorded this year, of which 207 were for the H3N2 strain.

As the targeted vaccine for H3N2 will not arrive until April, Secretary for Food and Health (食物及.生局局長) Ko Wing-man (高永文) urged the public to get flu jabs as soon as possible.

“When the new vaccines arrive, we will hand them over to the Centre for Health Protection’s expert committee to decide which groups should be given priority due to the limited supply.”

High-risk patients should be vaccinated as soon as possible, Ko continued. “If one gets medical treatment earlier, the symptoms will likely be less serious.

“But if one waits for several days and complications arise, it will be tough for both the patient and the hospital.”

Meanwhile, medical workers will be given special consideration as there is the possibility that they may infect their patients if they have already contracted the flu.

Ko also said a system will be in place to inform the public which community doctors are seeing patients during the holidays.

The measure is being taken to ease the pressure on public hospitals as the number of private doctors during this period is expected to plunge by more than 70 percent.

“If the situation gets serious, the authority will consider cutting back on some of the elective or non-urgent surgical services,” Ko said.

Meanwhile, HA chief executive Leung Pak-yin (梁.賢) said, “We will discuss with the Medical Council to see if private doctors can assist in treating patients with ordinary flu, cough and other milder conditions to ease up on patient demand.”

The authority will also employ more part-time staff, as occupancy rates in various public hospitals have reached their limits.

(The Standard, Jasmine Siu, 9 February, 2015)

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