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Cablegate: H1n1 Forces More School Closures. Hk Moving

VZCZCXRO5951
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHHK #1652 2441108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011108Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8440
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS HONG KONG 001652

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, CA/OCS/EP, OES/IHA, HHS FOR OGHA, CDC
ATLANTA FOR CCID AND COUGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT CASC CH HK KFLO KFLU
SUBJECT: H1N1 FORCES MORE SCHOOL CLOSURES. HK MOVING
TOWARDS TREATMENT-BASED APPROACH

REF: A. HONG KONG 935
B. HONG KONG 1065
C. HONG KONG 1371
D. HONG KONG 1567

1. Hong Kong health authorities instructed Hong Kong
International School (HKIS),s Primary School division to
close for seven days, due to increased student absences for
influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms. Although HKIS Primary
School officials told U.S. Consulate staff that there have
been over 100 student absences, Hong Kong health authorities
officially announced 65 children, aged between four and 10,
developed ILI symptoms since August 19. Four students were
confirmed infected with H1N1 and one has been hospitalized.
This closure follows HKIS Middle school,s closure last week.
Consulate General Hong Kong currently has 77 EFM students
enrolled in schools in Hong Kong, of which 17 attend HKIS
Middle School and 34 attend HKIS Primary Schools.

2. Separately, Ying Wa College in Sham Shui Po was also
closed after 21 boys, aged 11 and 13, developed ILI symptoms
since August 23. No students have required hospitalization.
The school was advised to postpone commencement of the
academic year by seven days. All Hong Kong public schools
were back in session this week. Health authorities
anticipate as many as 100 schools will be hit by H1N1
outbreaks as the flu peaks. These school closures follow the
new guidance published on August 24 by the Hong Kong
Educational Bureau that states that schools should monitor
the situation carefully, consult with health authorities, and
take into account factors including number of confirmed
infections and absentee rate of students from school.

3. As of September 1, H1N1 cases in Hong Kong have risen to a
total of 12,135. A total of six deaths have been reported.
The latest involved a 65 year old man who went to the
hospital due to shortness of breath, fever, and cough. He
also had a history of asthma, pneumonia, and heart disease.

4. Hong Kong health authorities have set up eight designated
flu clinics (DFC) and have made repeated appeals to the
public to not use emergency departments of public hospitals
for ILI symptoms. Press reports that DFCs and emergency
rooms have been flooded with patients with ILI symptoms,
putting a strain on the healthcare system. As a result, a
new treatment plan is under consideration, whereby the Hong
Kong Hospital Authority will stop testing patients for H1N1,
unless they do not respond to antivirals or need hospital
care. Under this plan, H1N1 flu patients with mild symptoms
will not be tested, reducing the number of laboratory tests
from 2,000 a day to 1,000 in order to relieve the burden on
Hong Kong government labs and staff. Even high risk
patients, including young children, the elderly, and the
chronically ill, as outpatients will no longer be tested for
H1N1 unless their conditions show no signs of improvement.
Instead, patients will be given Tamiflu and asked to rest at
home. All inpatients with ILI symptoms will continue to be
tested. In addition, as it moves towards a treatment-based
approach, Hong Kong health officials say that Hong Kong will
soon stop daily reporting of te number of H1N1 cases.
MARUT

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