UK experiencing worst flu season in seven years

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Tea

According to statistics, the UK is experiencing its worst flu season since 2011.

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In England, the number of people visiting their doctor with the flu has increased by more than 150 percent since the start of the year, an analysis by the Royal College of GPs found.

An estimated 31,300 patients went to their GP practice between January 8 and 14 with influenza-like illness – an increase of more than 9,000 in the previous week.

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There were 17 more flu-related deaths in the past week, taking the total number of flu-related deaths this winter to 120, the latest figures show.

Public Health England (PHE) also said there was an 11 percent increase in the flu hospitalization rate, as well as a 42 percent increase in the GP consultation rate with a flu-like illness, compared to the previous week.

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Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director of PHE, said: “Our data continues to show that more people with flu symptoms are visiting GPs and we are seeing more people hospitalized with flu.

“In terms of hospital admissions, this is the most significant flu season since the winter of 2010/11.”

Professor Simon de Lusignan, Medical Director of the Royal College’s Research and Surveillance Centre, said: “Surprisingly, given what we are hearing from GPs, the rate of influenza-like illness has risen again.

“While flu rates in primary care are still in the ‘moderate range’, the virus appears to most commonly affect patients over the age of 65, with rates rising in the ‘very high range’.

“As always, flu is unpredictable so it’s impossible to predict how rates will change in the coming weeks – they could rise further, they could level out or even fall.”

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also saw an increase.

Data from Health Protection Scotland showed that 114 people per 100,000 of the Scottish population were reported to have a flu-like illness in the week ending 14 January, up from 107 per 100,000 a week earlier.

PHE’s medical director, Professor Paul Cosford, said last week that doctors were seeing “a mix of types of flu” as he told people it was “not too late” to get vaccinated.

They include a deadly strain of the virus, known as “Australian flu”, A (H3N2), which got its name after circulating in the UK last winter before spreading to Down Under.

Stress especially affects older, more vulnerable age groups.

Meanwhile a cold snap is expected to hit the north of England in the coming days, which NHS doctors say could lead to a further increase in the disease.

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