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Seasonal flu update

Updated figures on this winter’s flu situation released this week show that the number of reported cases of people with ‘flu-like symptoms continues to fall.


The figures for the past week show that:
• There have been 24.1 GP consultations per 100,000 population in England. This compares with 40.7 last week and 124 five weeks ago
• 160 critical care beds are occupied with people with ‘flu-like symptoms – around 4.6% of capacity. This compares with 247 last week and 850 at its peak; and
• 72.5% of over 65s and 49.8% of under 65s in at risk groups have been vaccinated (72 and 49% last week).


The HPA has been notified of a total of 395 deaths in the UK since the flu season began in October last year. The vast majority of the new deaths reported today (57) did not occur in the past week - a substantial number will have occurred over the past six weeks.


[quote top=Professor Dame Sally Davies, Interim Chief Medical Officer said:] It's been a tough winter and I thank everyone working in the NHS for their hard work and dedication so far. The NHS has been under pressure but, thanks to the detailed planning that was put in place in advance, it has coped fantastically well.[/quote]


She proceded to comment: "It is reassuring to see that cases have continued to decline again this week. But winter isn't over yet and we still all need to be on our guard against flu. That means catching our germs in a tissue, throwing it in a bin and washing our hands regularly, catch it, bin it, kill it. It’s still not too late for people in an at risk group to be vaccinated."


Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said "Our latest flu report shows that levels of flu activity are now below baseline levels in England, Wales and Scotland.

However our surveillance will continue and we will still be monitoring what is happening to both the levels of consultations for flu-like illness and testing viruses until the end of the season in May.

Although the peak of flu activity has passed, there will still be some flu viruses circulating and it is important that people remember to practice good cough and hand hygiene such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, and then disposing of these as soon as possible to stop it spreading in the community.”