(AA) – Hong Kong’s influenza outbreak crept towards claiming 200 lives over the weekend as 15 people died in one day, local media reported Sunday.
The territory’s Centre for Health Protection said Saturday’s deaths marked the highest daily casualty toll since the epidemic began at the start of winter, the South China Morning Post said.
The latest figures show 196 people have succumbed to the virus over the winter, compared to 133 at the beginning of 2014.
“The current influenza activity in Hong Kong is very high and may further increase in the coming weeks,” according to an internal Hospital Authority report obtained by the Post.
Further deaths are expected during the coming week’s Lunar New Year holiday.
The authority report added: “This winter, the severity as reflected by the weekly number of severe influenza cases recorded was higher than the winter seasons in the past.”
Chinese University microbiologist Professor Paul Chan Kay-sheung earlier warned that the dominant strain of H3N2 was more infectious than usual and could push the year’s death toll to one of the highest in 15 years.
In 2003, the SARS crisis claimed 299 lives and two years later an estimated 1,100 died in an influenza outbreak.