Health chiefs have issued a warning over the “very real” threat of flu, as case numbers soar across England.
Recent data shows that 3,700 patients were undergoing treatment in hospital every day in the week ending on December 30th. This represents a dramatic increase of over 3,000 patients per day from November. In 2021, when social contact was restricted, there were just 34 admissions per day.
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director at NHS England, said that the figures confirm fears of a “twindemic” this winter, with Covid-19 and flu circulating together. The number of cases has grown seven-fold in the space of a month and this is impacting both patients and staff. Healthcare workers are having to take time off due to flu and Covid symptoms and more and more patients need hospital treatment. Prof Powis urged people not to be complacent and said that it was essential that we are aware of the “very real” threat of winter illnesses.
Prof Powis encouraged anyone who is eligible for the flu jab and the Covid booster vaccine to come forward. Vaccines are available via community health services, such as GP surgeries and pharmacies, free of charge.
The statistics show that rates of hospital admissions for flu have been particularly high among young children aged under 5 and people aged over 65.
NHS 111 has been inundated with calls in the last week (week ending 30th December, 2022). Figures show that call numbers were over 65% higher than during the same period in 2021. The proportion of hospital beds occupied in England was also 7% higher than in 2021.
Symptoms of flu are often similar to colds, but they tend to be more severe. Many people experience a fever, a sore throat, a cough and a runny nose, but flu can also cause fatigue, muscle aches and pains, headaches and sickness and diarrhoea. Most people recover without the need for hospital treatment but some people are vulnerable to severe symptoms.
Flu vaccines are recommended for children, older people, pregnant women and people who have certain underlying health conditions.
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