The main points from the weekly national influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report for week 42 (data up to week 41) are:
Highest case rates continue to be observed among those aged 10 to 29, with a rate of 245.2 per 100,000 population for the 10 to 19 age group and 252.6 per 100,000 for those aged 20 to 29.
Positivity rates were highest in those aged between 10 to 19; this was mainly in those in the upper end of the age group.
Incidence and positivity rates remained highest in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.
COVID-19 hospital and critical care admission rates continued to increase.
Hospitalisation rates for COVID-19 were 5.55 per 100,000 in week 41, compared to 3.60 per 100,000 in the previous week.
By region, the North West had the highest weekly rate of hospital admissions. By age group, rates were highest among those aged 75+.
The overall number of acute respiratory infection incidents reported to PHE Health Protection Teams increased from 885 in the previous week to 1140 in week 41 in England. SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the majority of these incidents.
The number of COVID-19-related deaths increased further.
Flu activity, including GP consultations and hospital admissions, remains low.
Flu vaccine uptake is higher in all groups compared to this time last year.
Provisional data suggests uptake rates are:
- 47.5% in 65+ year olds
- 12.0% in under 65 years in a clinical risk group
- 13.0% in pregnant women
- 19.5% in 2 year olds
- 21.0% in 3 year olds
The first uptake rates for school age children (Reception to Year 7) and healthcare workers will be published in November.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, said:
We’re now seeing about 40 per cent of positive cases among young adults in their late teens and early twenties, which is causing the disease to spread rapidly throughout the community and older people. And while there are fewer cases among older people, they are far more likely to get seriously ill. That means we are also seeing a worrying increase in people aged over 75 being admitted to hospital. We must be prepared for the number of deaths to rise rapidly as a result.
This picture is particularly acute in the North of England, with the North West the region worst affected.
I cannot stress enough how vital it is that everyone follows the guidelines as they are there to help protect you and your loved ones. Wash your hands regularly, use a face covering and keep your distance.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Head of Flu, Public Health England said:
This winter, more people than ever are being offered a free flu vaccine and it is encouraging to see uptake so far is higher than last season in all groups.
There is still time to get vaccinated against flu before it starts circulating in the community. We are urging anyone who is eligible to take up the offer. By getting the jab, you can help protect yourself, your family and the NHS – it will help save lives.