Covid-19 and flu infections rising sharply in Scotland and rest of UK

Infections of Covid-19 and flu are rising in Scotland, and throughout the rest of the UK, as more people mix indoors due to bad weather, health experts have warned.
Flu cases are on the riseFlu cases are on the rise
Flu cases are on the rise

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates 100,700 people in private households, equating to 1.91 per cent of the population, had coronavirus in the week to December 5.

This was around one in 50 people, up from around one in 60 in the week ending November 23, the last period for which figures were released, although the ONS said the trend is “uncertain” at that point.

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It is estimated that around one in 50 people in England and one in 55 in Wales had Covid-19 in the week ending December 5, while in Northern Ireland it was one in 45 for the week to December 3.

The ONS said the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus continued to increase in England, rose in Wales and Scotland, and the trend is “uncertain” in Northern Ireland.

Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance dissemination and strategy, said: “Across most of the UK we have seen infections begin to increase again, with England now at similar levels to the end of September this year.

“The trend in infections varies across the English regions and ages, and we will continue to monitor the data carefully as the winter months progress.”

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) consultant epidemiologist for immunisation, said: “We’re seeing rises in flu, Covid and other winter viruses as people mix more indoors.

“Covid hospitalisations are highest in the oldest age groups, so it is particularly important that everyone who is eligible continues to come forward to accept their booster jab.

“While Covid-19 and flu can be mild infections for many, we must not forget that they can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Uptake for the winter vaccine programme is very encouraging with Scotland delivering more jabs per head of the population among over 50’s than any other UK nation. However, the number of hospitalisations from both COVID-19 and flu are on the rise.

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“The vaccines help to prevent serious illness and the need for hospital treatment freeing up capacity as we move into what could be the most challenging winter in the history of our health and care service.”

The latest figures suggest the UK is facing its third winter in a row with Covid-19 on the rise.

But unlike in 2020 and 2021, when coronavirus was the main driver of sickness and hospitalisations, this winter is seeing other viruses becoming more prevalent.

Flu is now “circulating widely” across the country, with a sharp increase in hospital cases last week, particularly among the over-85s and children under five, according to the UKHSA.

In England, the rate of hospital admissions for flu has overtaken those for people with Covid-19 for the first time since the pandemic began, and is now running at a higher level than in any week since the 2017/18 season.

Admissions for flu in Scotland are also on the rise with the highest hospital admission rate noted in patients aged less than one year old (18.5 per 100,000).



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