Sophia Chan (second right), Hong Kong secretary of food and health, and management of the Hospital Authority observe emergency-room patients awaiting admission. Photo: HK Government

A total of 42 people died in Hong Kong of flu during the Lunar New Year holidays, bringing the death toll from the epidemic to 224 since the beginning of this year.

The Center for Health Protection recorded 65 cases of severe influenza in adult patients and 15 severe cases in children from February 15 to 19, Metro Daily reported.

On Tuesday, the first workday after the Lunar New Year holiday, public hospitals were flooded with patients as a total of 6,595 people required emergency services.

In some hospitals, beds were in short supply. Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long, New Territories, was operating at 138% of bed capacity, while United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, Kowloon’s hit 135%.

Some patients with less severe symptoms had to wait eight hours or more in emergency rooms, Apple Daily reported.

Meanwhile, the health centre is investigating the case of a seven-year-old boy who had traveled to Hong Kong from Sichuan province in mainland China last Thursday and began suffering from fever, a cough and muscle pain on Sunday, according to a government release.

The boy developed seizures on Monday and was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital. His clinical diagnosis was influenza A complicated with encephalopathy.

Read: Flu claims seven lives in one day, with many serious cases