“With very few flu cases over the past three years, the population immunity against flu is at a very low level, especially among younger kids,” he argued. “We need to keep masks when we drop Covid rapid antigen tests (RAT) for schoolchildren.”
The Education Bureau announced on Tuesday the daily RAT requirement for secondary school students would be lifted from next Wednesday. But the same measure for primary schools, preschools and special schools will last until March 15.
Leung suggested that authorities lift the outdoor mask requirement before abolishing the entire measure.
Hong Kong remains one of the few cities in the world where wearing a mask outdoors is compulsory, three years into the pandemic. In mainland China, masks are only needed indoors.
In January, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said he hoped the public would continue to wear masks throughout the winter flu season because the facial coverings played an important role in fighting infections.
According to latest figures from the Department of Health, seasonal influenza levels in Hong Kong have remained low.
In the week between February 5 and 11, 32.4 cases of influenza were detected at private clinics for every 1,000 consultations.
As of February 11, four severe influenza cases have been recorded, comprising one patient aged under 17, one between 18 and 49 years old, and two aged 65 or above.