Scotland

Scottish flu outbreak 'past its peak' as new cases drop

Woman in bed Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scotland may be over the worst of this winter's flu outbreak

The outbreak of flu in Scotland may have peaked after cases dropped for the first time in a month.

Figures for the third week of January show the number visiting GPs with flu-like symptoms was down on the previous week.

Health Protection Scotland said 102 people per 100,000 of the population had the virus compared with 114 per 100,000 in week two.

Last week's reports were five times higher than the same period last year.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said: "Flu-like illnesses will continue to impact on the health and social care services for some time, but the recent decrease does offer hope that we are over the worst.

"We will, however, continue to monitor trends for some weeks yet.

"The predominant strain is covered by this year's flu vaccine and I'd continue to encourage anyone in an eligible group to take up the free jab as it is the best defence against flu."

Ongoing monitoring

Despite the slight reduction in reported cases, figures from the official body showed last week's reports were five times higher than in the same period last year.

This is despite there being almost 20,000 more vaccines administered compared to 2017.

Cases had risen from 107 per 100,000 in the week ending January 7, while about 46 Scots in every 100,000 suffered from the virus during the final week of December.

Early analysis suggests the peak in GP consultations has now passed, but GP consultations remain five times higher than the same period last year.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Scots are still being encouraged to take up the flu jab as the best form of defence against the virus

Officials say monitoring is still ongoing to assess the impact across all healthcare systems.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "It is encouraging to see the number of reported flu-like illnesses fall.

"While we could yet see a rise this winter, the data suggests we have now passed the peak of GP consultations.

"There are still a few months of winter left so we will continue to work with health boards to ensure they are coping with the challenges of flu this winter."

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