Flu rates in Scotland four times higher than same week last year

Written by Jenni Davidson on 12 January 2018 in News

The number of people with flu has doubled since the last week of December

Flu - credit Melanie Hayes

The number of people suffering from flu in Scotland in the first week of 2018 is double that of the previous week and four times higher than it was in the same week last year.

The latest report from Health Protection Scotland showed that 107 people per 100,000 of the Scottish population were diagnosed in the week ending 7 January 2018 compared with 46 per 100,000 on the last week of 2017.

In the first week of January last year just 26.4 in 100,000 were suffering from flu and respiratory illnesses.

However clinicians confirm that the current predominant strain of flu is one that is covered by this year’s flu vaccine and deputy chief medical officer for Scotland Dr Gregor Smith encouraged eligible people to get vaccinated.

He said: “While we’ve still got a couple of months of winter left, this week’s statistics provide further evidence that the vaccine is a good match against the current most common strains.

“I would encourage anyone in an eligible group to get vaccinated – it is the best defence against flu.”

He added: “The best way to stop the spread of flu is to follow simple hygiene practices.

“Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, and bin those tissues as quickly as possible.

“It is so important that people are aware of the steps they can take to avoid being struck down by the virus, and know that it’s not too late to be vaccinated.”

Commenting on the figures, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “These statistics confirm what we’ve been hearing up and down the country that the complexity of treating flu, including appropriate diagnosis and segregation to avoid cross-contamination, is putting our health system under significant pressure.

“Emergency departments saw the highest level of attendances over the festive period in a number of years – during the two week festive period attendances were up 10 per cent compared to the previous year, with a 20 per cent rise in the week leading up to Christmas.

“Despite these challenges, over 82 per cent of patients were still seen within the four hour target in Scotland’s core A&Es throughout December, compared to 77.3 per cent in England.

“Staff up and down the country are doing a remarkable job, and I am continuing to visit hospitals around the country to thank them personally for their hard work and dedication during this busy time.”

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