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Flu and COVID-19 surveillance report published

Weekly national influenza and COVID-19 report, COVID-19 activity, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses.

Latest update

The latest national flu and COVID-19 surveillance report, which includes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) data, and national norovirus and rotavirus surveillance report, have been published along with the latest public health advice.

RSV surveillance up until end of week 46

The overall positivity (among people with symptoms tested at sentinel ‘spotter’ laboratories) for RSV increased slightly to 12.5% with the highest positivity in those aged under 5 years at 38.7%.

Emergency departments attendances for acute bronchiolitis continued to increase nationally, as did hospital admission rates for RSV. Hospital admission rates for RSV among those under 5 years decreased.

Dr Conall Watson, Consultant Epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said:

RSV is a seasonal virus and cases in young children typically go up from October to a peak in late November or December. UKHSA surveillance suggests that while many young children are needing NHS assessment and care for conditions caused by RSV, case numbers may be showing some signs of stabilising compared to recent marked increases. We continue to monitor RSV activity closely.

RSV infections are usually mild but can cause breathing difficulties in babies and the elderly. Initial symptoms in infants are similar to a cold but can go on to include breathing more quickly or noisily and having difficulties feeding.

If your baby has a cold that is getting worse, or it is causing unusual breathing or problems feeding, call NHS 111 or contact your GP practice. As a parent, you should trust your own judgement and call 999 or go to A&E if your child seems seriously unwell.

You can protect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly, using a tissue to catch coughs or sneezes and washing your hands afterwards, and staying away from others if you feel unwell. RSV is another reason why babies need protection from tobacco smoke as this is linked with more severe RSV infections.

Flu surveillance up until end of week 46

Multiple indicators show that flu activity has remained stable and within baseline levels this week.

Influenza positivity remained stable at 1.8% in week 46 compared to 1.8% in the previous week. This refers to the percentage of people who test positive among those with symptoms tested at sentinel “spotter” laboratories, reported through the Respiratory DataMart surveillance system.

Hospital admissions, including intensive care unit (ICU) and high dependency unit (HDU) admissions, remained within baseline levels this week.

The overall flu hospital admission for this week remained low at 0.39 per 100,000 population, compared to 0.29 per 100,000 last week.

Children aged under 5 years continue to have the highest level of hospital admissions, but this has decreased this week to a rate of 0.92 per 100,000 population.

The provisional proportion of people in England who have received the 2023 to 2024 influenza vaccine in targeted groups is as follows:

  • 75.4% in all aged 65 years and over, and is higher compared to the equivalent week in the 2022 to 2023 season
  • 37.4% in all aged 3 years, and is higher compared to the equivalent week in the 2022 to 2023 season
  • 37.9% in all aged 2 years, and is comparable to the equivalent week in the 2022 to 2023 season
  • 36.8% in those aged under 65 years in a clinical risk group, and is lower compared to the equivalent week in the 2022 to 2023 season
  • 28.2% in all pregnant women, and is comparable to the equivalent week in the 2022 to 2023 season

COVID-19 surveillance up until end of week 46

COVID-19 activity decreased in almost all indicators this week.

COVID-19 positivity decreased to 5.8% in week 46 compared to 6.6% in the previous week. This refers to the percentage of people who test positive among those with symptoms tested at sentinel “spotter” laboratories, reported through the Respiratory DataMart surveillance system.

COVID-19 hospitalisations decreased to 2.7 per 100,000 population this week compared to 2.8 per 100,000 in the previous week. Hospitalisations were highest in the group of those aged 85 years and over at 25.9 per 100,000 population.

COVID-19 case rates and positivity rates through Pillar 1 decreased in most age groups, regions and ethnic groups in this week with a weekly mean positivity rate of 8.1% compared to 9.2% in the previous week.

ICU and HDU admission rates for this week’s report remained low and stable.

Hospital admission rates have continued to decrease in most age groups.

Hospital admission rates for COVID-19 are highest in the North West at 3.62 per 100,000 population this week.

A total of 7,482,634 people aged over 65 years in England have been vaccinated with an autumn 2023 COVID-19 booster dose since 1 September 2023, totalling 67.0% of that population.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at UKHSA, said:

In our weekly surveillance report, flu levels remain stable. We continue to monitor the data closely, and we expect to see an increase in the coming weeks as we approach flu season. This week, once again we see a continued decrease in COVID-19 activity.

If you are showing signs of a respiratory illness, we advise avoiding mixing with others where possible, particularly those who are more vulnerable, to help stop the spread of viruses like flu and COVID-19.

Vaccination is the best protection against flu and COVID-19, get winter strong and book your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations online.

Norovirus surveillance up until end of week 44

During weeks 44 and 45, norovirus laboratory reports remained 31% lower than the 5-season average of the same period.

Overall, the total number of reported enteric virus (all suspected or confirmed as norovirus) outbreaks reported during weeks 44 and 45 remained lower than the 5-season average for the same 2-week period. The majority of outbreaks (56%) were in care home settings. From week 44 to 45 the number of outbreaks reported in educational settings more than doubled.

 Amy Douglas, Norovirus Epidemiologist at UKHSA, said:

It’s really important we take steps to try and stop the spread of norovirus. If you or a family member have been sick with norovirus, you should avoid visiting hospitals and care homes, and not return to work or school, until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

Hand gels do not kill norovirus, so handwashing with soap and warm water is best. Using bleach-based products to clean surfaces will also help stop the virus from spreading.

Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration which can result in hospitalisation, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-health-security-agency

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-report-published

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