Flu levels are the highest for three years, official statistics released by Public Health England reveal today.
PHE’s national weekly influenza report stated that 68 outbreaks had been reported across England, while 184 people had been hospitalised across the UK at a rate of two people per 100,000 – up from 1.4 the previous week.
It stated: ‘In week 1 2015 (ending 4 January), allowing for bank holiday reporting breaks, across indicators influenza activity was at similar or higher levels than those reported the previous week.
‘Overall, levels are now higher than the peak of flu activity observed in the last 3 seasons, but have not reached the levels seen in the last notable seasons of 2010 to 2011 and 2008 to 2009. The Department of Health has issued an alert on the prescription of antiviral medicines by GPs.’
The BBC claims that the US Centres of Disease Control has warned that half of H3N2 viruses tested were ‘drifted strains’, different to the one protected by the flu jab, while five of 24 samples tested by PHE were of drifted strains.