Hong Kong reported second critical H1N1 case besides 78 newly confirmed ones on Wednesday, but experts predict low impact on the economy despite people's worries.
A 48-year-old woman, who came down with flu symptoms on July 9, went to the hospital Wednesday after she became more ill, suffering a fever, cough and shortness of breathes. She required ventilator support after admission to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is now in critical condition.
Another 34-year-old man is also in serious condition at Tuen Mun Hospital. He was admitted to an isolation ward on July 11 after coming down with fever and flu symptoms two days earlier. He is being treated with Tamiflu and antibiotics.
There were 78 newly confirmed cases of swine flu in Hong Kong on Wednesday, involving 38 men and 40 women aged from five months to 58 years. This brings Hong Kong's total tally to 1,467.
People in Hong Kong are worried that the swine flu virus will have a similar effect to SARS, the 2003 epidemic that brought life in the territory to a standstill for months, and led to the death of 300 people.
While that's a relatively small number of people compared to Hong Kong's total population, the virus wreaked havoc on the stocks, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 17.3%, to 8634.45 in less than 12 months.
However, the Reserve Bank is predicting swine flu will have only a low impact on the economy. It has released a paper based on the Ministry of Health assumption that around 30% of the population will contract the virus.
Reserve Bank Assistant Governor John McDermott says the paper suggests declines in output of less than 0.6% in the first year. That is smaller than some predictions reported recently in the markets and smaller than Hong Kong's experience with SARS.
The paper also notes firms have the ability to reschedule activities which may mitigate the effect on output even further.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century last month, raising its alert level to its maximum.
WHO has been informed on July 8 by health authorities in Denmark, Japan and the Hong Kong of the appearance of H1N1 viruses which are resistant to the antiviral drug oseltamivir (known as Tamiflu) based on laboratory testing.
The spread of the pandemic virus is considered unstoppable, WHO said, adding that vaccine will be needed in all countries.
According to WHO, latest data puts the number of those infected by Swine Flu worldwide at 94512 across 129 nations, with 429 deaths by July 6. Most of those died in United States (170) and Mexico (119). The majority of cases are concentrated in South and North America, but a growing number of cases in Europe, Australia and Asia have been reported in the past few days.
China has declared 2295 cases including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Other Asian nations hit by the outbreak include Thailand with2076 cases, Japan with 1790, Philippines with 1709 and Singapore with1055 as of July 6.