Lunar New Year sees peak in seasonal flu: health official


TAIPEI–More than 25 percent of the people admitted to emergency rooms last week were suffering from flu-like illnesses, a health official said yesterday, adding that seasonal flu has reached its peak for this season and is expected to decrease.

Of the 194,236 ER visits from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, 27.4 percent of the cases complained of flu-like symptoms, said the Department of Health (DOH). It explained that the rise in the number of patients in the ER was likely due to the fact that most local clinics were closed during the holiday season.

Last week, 174 people were diagnosed with serious flu, with nine fatalities, said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH.

The nine victims were aged between 2 months and 85 years, and none had been vaccinated against the flu, said CDC Deputy Director Gen. Lin Ting.

The types of seasonal flu viruses rampant since last summer in Taiwan have been A/H1N1, H3N2 and seasonal flu B.

Lin further added that the prevalence of A/H1N1 has caused more deaths among people below the age of 65. “Of the 59 people reported dead from the flu since last July, 30 were infected with A/H1N1, and 27 of them were under 65,” he said.

“We encourage younger people who experience flu-like symptoms to seek help,” he said.

However, judging from past experience, Lin forecast a slow drop in the number of flu cases. “Seasonal flu usually starts to rise in November and reaches its peak during the Lunar New Year period, after which reported cases slowly begin to decrease,” he said.