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UK flu levels according to PHE statistics: 2019 to 2020

Regular updates on seasonal flu levels during the winter season 2019 to 2020.

The Public Health England (PHE) report published at 2pm on 19 December 2019 shows that seasonal flu is circulating.

The statistics show that over the last week, hospitalisation and intensive care admission rates have increased 5.13 to 6.85 per 100,000 and from 0.23 to 0.35 per 100,000 respectively – suggesting flu is having a moderate impact on hospital admissions and intensive care unit and high dependency unit admissions.

GP consultations with flu-like illness have also increased, from 13.1 to 16.0 per 100,000.

The main subtype circulating is influenza A(H3N2), which initial evidence suggests is matched to the strain included in this season’s vaccine. No statistically significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death has been seen yet overall or by age group in England this season.

As flu levels ramp up, PHE has activated the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign to help prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease.

The digital and print campaign encourages the public to carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, bin the used tissues as soon as possible and then wash their hands to kill the germs.

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Head of Flu, Public Health England yesterday said:

“Flu season has now started and so it’s really important that people get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to ensure they are protected against this potentially very serious illness. The initial evidence suggests the vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is circulating.

“Flu is very infectious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

“To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.”

Seasonal flu usually circulates for several weeks each year.

The intensity of circulation depends upon the underlying population immunity, the circulating viruses and external factors such as the weather.

Alongside other diseases like norovirus that normally increase during winter, seasonal flu puts extra pressure on the NHS every year.

The weekly national flu reports track seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses in the UK. Currently, 68.7% of adults over 65, 37.1% of adults with a long-term health condition, 37.9% of pregnant women, 32.3% of 3-year-olds and 33.7% of 2-year-olds have received the vaccine.

As of the end of November, 61.5% of healthcare workers and 43.6% of children from reception to year 6 (4 to 11 years) were vaccinated.


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