Flu level likely to rise during Lunar New Year: CDC

To protect against flu, the Centers for Disease Control urges the public to get vaccinated and to wash their hands regularly and those with respiratory symptoms to wear masks. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Jan. 1 that it expects the flu level in Taiwan to rise during the Lunar New Year.

In the week ending Dec. 29, 74,470 people sought outpatient or emergency treatment for flu-like symptoms at hospitals and clinics across the country, and that number continues to climb, the CDC’s monitoring data shows.

According to the CDC, there were 20 new cases of severe seasonal influenza with complications, nine cases of H1N1, also known as swine flu, eight cases of H3N2 and two H3N2-related deaths last week.

It is estimated the flu level could exceed the epidemic threshold next week, meaning the number of cases recorded will be high enough for an epidemic to occur, CDC Deputy Director General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said during an interview.

People are likely to encounter individuals with flu as they go about their daily lives, Lo warned. The flu season will reach its peak during the Chinese Spring Festival period, he added.

To protect against flu, Lo urged people to wash their hands regularly and those with respiratory symptoms to wear masks. He also recommended avoiding close contact with others and refraining from visiting crowded or poorly ventilated public venues.

About 140,000 doses of government-funded flu vaccine are available, said Lo.

For information on influenza vaccines, the CDC urged the public to visit the “Query System for Contracted Healthcare Facilities Offering Government-funded Influenza Vaccines” at https://antiflu.CDC.gov.tw/.

By Chen Wei-ting and Yu-Chen Chung