As the threat of Australian flu infecting British people rises - the elderly, pregnant and children with chronic illnesses are being urged to get vaccinated.
The flu, also known as H3N2 - has arrived in the UK after claiming hundreds of lives in Australia, with the virus confirmed in parts of the UK and Ireland.
A new online map showing areas worst hit by the virus has pointed to Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside and Falkirk as being badly hit by the Australian strain of the bug.
Areas with most cases are shown on the map as red - while those parts not badly impacted by the virus are shown in blue.
Data from the map, created by Flu Survey, is used by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The H3N2 strain, which caused one of Australia’s worst ‘flu outbreaks last year, can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening conditions.
Symptoms are similar to normal ‘flu but are more severe. If people continue to feel really ill after a week it could indicate something more serious.
To limit the spread of the virus, people are urged to wash their hands frequently, sneeze into tissues and discard them and regularly clean often-used surfaces such as keyboards, and phones.
Health Minister Shona Robison said: “Health staff across Scotland are dedicated to helping patients and are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.
“So far the vaccine is proving to be effective against the most commonly encountered flu strains this season although it is still too early to have a complete picture, but there’s no doubt that the increase in cases, particularly affecting people with complex and multiple conditions, is putting increased pressure on our systems.
“This is contributing to a big rise in demand for NHS services that staff are responding to.”
She added: “Our £22.4m winter funding, the highest amount in any one year, will continue to be invested in boards throughout winter to help them cope with pressures. Scottish Government ministers, clinicians and senior officials are continuing to monitor the situation closely and keep in contact with boards to fully understand and assist with the pressures they are under.”
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