A surge in H1N1 cases and outbreaks is expected in Hong Kong when schools resume next week,  officials said on Friday, adding the virus is still active in the city.

As at August 28, there were 10,849 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, Health Protection Controller Thomas Tsang said. About 99.5% were mild cases and 55% involved patients aged 20 or below. Among the 42 serious cases, 80% of the patients have chronic illness or other health problems.

Urging people to maintain vigilance,  Tsang said the Government will pay special attention to serious and fatal cases. He also reminded schools, parents and students to take precautions to minimize the possibility of school outbreaks when classes resume on September 1.

Information transparency

The centre has issued health guidelines to schools and the name of schools which have flu-like illness outbreaks will be uploaded onto the centre's website from September 1.

Under Secretary for Food & Health Prof Gabriel Leung said the number of newly confirmed cases cannot fully reflected the real situation.

The Government will take other information into consideration, such as designated flu clinics' usage, hospital admission rate of flu patients, outbreaks in schools and other institutions, and surveys and studies conducted by the academic sector.

Experts from the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University are working on a study to see how many Hong Kong people have had flu symptoms, while the Red Cross has joined the University of Hong Kong to study how many blood donors have swine-flu antibodies.

The Government will use the data collected to assess when the first wave of human swine flu will end and get prepared for the second wave.

Vaccination programme

A recent survey conducted by Chinese University said only half of Hong Kong healthcare workers are willing to receive swine flu shots.

Noting most staff want to know more about vaccines' effectiveness and side effects, Prof Leung hoped future studies conducted by other countries will give them a clearer picture.

He said H1N1 flu vaccine procurement will continue and the timetable for the Government's vaccination programme remains unchanged.