Dr Richard Pebody, PHE acting head of respiratory diseases department, said: “The flu survey is an on-line survey, which was set up during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 as an indicator of flu activity in the community. Around 7,500 people around the country are currently registered with survey and, during the winter, they voluntarily report if they have had flu-like symptoms during the previous week. A flu epidemic will hit England within a fortnight, if current trends continue, according to latest figures suggesting more than eight million people are now suffering symptoms.The new data shows a “significant excess” of deaths among over 65s in England, and among those in all age groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland.Across England, flu levels are currently approaching high levels, the statistics from Public Health England show, with a 2.5 fold rise in cases in the last two weeks.If current trends continue, it means England will reach epidemic levels within a fortnight.Health officials had been fearful about the impact of a strain of flu A (H3N2) dubbed “Aussie flu” after it fuelled the worst flu season in Australia for a decade. “The best prevention for flu, other than observing good hygienic practices, such as regular hand washing, is for people, particularly those in at-risk groups, including patients with long-term conditions and pregnant women, to get their flu jab. It is not too late to receive some benefit from vaccination.“If someone does have the flu, unfortunately there is no cure, but patients can assist their own recovery through taking plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids as it is easy to become dehydrated. Fevers and muscle ache, which are often symptoms of flu can also be improved with paracetamol or ibuprofen, if appropriate. But NHS senior managers say GPs were put under pressure by health officials to choose the cheaper option – excluding the Japanese strain now spreading through hospitals.The latest statistics suggest around 4,500 people were admitted to hospital with flu last week.Of those, 61 per cent – were suffering influenza B, the vast majority with the B-Yamagata strain.The latest report includes estimates suggesting that more than 15 per cent of people have been left suffering influenza-like illness in the past week – equating to more than 8.3 million people.Those figures come from internet-based surveillance run by PHE and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Separate statistics published today by PHE covering GP consultations show 53.1 consultations per 100,000 people in England last week, compared with rates of 37.3 per 100,000 people last week, and 21 per 100,000 in the last week of December. Health officials said levels were highest among those aged 45 to 64.The report shows 120 deaths from flu have now been confirmed in England, a rise from 85 on record last week.Broken down by region, the latest figures show Midlands and East England, which includes Birmingham, Norwich and Nottingham, was worst affected, followed by North England, including Manchester, York and Newcastle. The Royal College of GPs said the figures represented a 150 per cent rise in flu rates since the start of the year, with an estimated 31,300 patients in England attending their GP practice with flu symptoms in the week ending 14 January.Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “General practice continues to face huge winter pressures with a significant increase in patients presenting with influenza, and high numbers of patients continuing to present with other common winter illnesses.“Wintertime always brings challenges for the health service, and GP practices have prepared well in order to deliver the best possible care for patients. But patients can also help in keeping themselves safe and well during the cold weather. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. But the new figures suggest that B strains are now dominating, making up more than six in ten hospitalised cases last week. The vast majority of those cases involve a strain called B-Yamagata – known as “Japanese flu” – which is not covered by the vaccines most patients have received.Two types of vaccine were available to the NHS – a £5 trivalent version covering three main strains of flu, and an £8 quadrivalent version protecting against four strains. “This means number of participants at a local level will be small and figures should thus be interpreted with caution. It is just one of a range of indicators which PHE flu surveillance considers when looking at the position across the country each week.” “We do encourage patients who are ill to think hard about whether they do need to see a GP – not just in terms of reducing pressures on the NHS, but to minimise the possibility of passing viruses, such as flu, to other people, particularly in at-risk groups, such as those with long-term conditions or pregnant women.”Professor Paul Cosford, medical director, PHE said: “Our data continues to show that more people are visiting GPs with flu symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospital with flu.“In terms of hospital admission, this is the most significant flu season since the winter of 2010/11 and the preceding pandemic year of 2009 although it is not an epidemic.“We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia. The A(H3N2) strain particularly affects older, more vulnerable age groups.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedCurran and Unadkat are IPL millionaires, Hetmyer to RCBDecember 18, 2018In “Sports”Gayle, Yuvraj worth the money ‘even if they win two-three games’ – SehwagMarch 13, 2018In “latest news”IPL 2019 auction: Caribbean stars command highest price multipleDecember 19, 2018In “latest news” India opener Shikhar Dhawan was the first player bought at the auction, by Sunrisers, his old franchise using a RTM to snap him up after extensive bidding. He was sold for INR 5.2 crore (USD 812,500 approx) after Kings XI Punjab offered the first bid of the morning with INR 2 crore. That set the tone for a frenetic day of bidding from Kings XI, whom bid more than any other franchise as well as missed on more players than any other franchise due to the others’ RTMs. At one point during the day, Kings XI made the winning bid five times in a row.Ben StokesOffspinner R Ashwin became the day’s first million-dollar player, going for INR 7.6 crore (USD 1.1875 million approx) to Kings XI – Super Kings could not use a RTM on him given they had already retained three capped India players in MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja before the auction.In all 16 RTMs were used on the day*, none more emphatically so than the one Mumbai used on left-arm spin-bowling allrounder Krunal Pandya. As expected, there was fierce and prolonged bidding for him, bumping up his base price a mind-boggling 22 times from INR 40 lakh to INR 8.8 crore. That winning bid was made by Royal Challengers Bangalore, but thwarted by Mumbai and their RTM. That meant Mumbai paid more for Krunal than they did for the third of their retained players, Jasprit Bumrah, whom they had kept on their roster for INR 7 crore before the auction. (ESPNcricinfo) Chris GayleChris Gayle and Lasith Malinga, arguably the highest-profile overseas batsman and bowler in seasons past, went unsold on day one of the IPL 2018 auction in Bengaluru. Gayle had set his base price at INR 2 crore (USD 312,500 approx) and Malinga at INR 1 crore (USD 156,000 approx), numbers that were breached several times in the sale of other players during the day.England captain Joe Root, who has never been part of the IPL previously, also went unsold – there had been questions asked ahead of the auction on whether the England players would be bought at the auction, given their availability issues. Unsold players could be called back into the auction on day two, if requested by any franchise.Another England player had no problems going for big bucks, though. Allrounder Ben Stokes was the biggest buy in the first round of bidding, going from a base price of INR 2 crore to INR 12.5 crore (USD 1.95m approx) to Rajasthan Royals – back from their two-year suspension for their role in the spot-fixing scandal of 2013. Questions remain over whether he will play in the IPL at all, though, as he faces charges of affray – if he is ruled out before the tournament begins, the IPL will allow Royals a replacement player.Lasith MalingaJofra Archer, the man from Barbados who is waiting to become eligible to play for England, attracted as much attention at the auction as he is doing on the field at the Big Bash League. Delhi Daredevils, Chennai Super Kings – also back from their suspension – Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royals all bid for him, meaning his base price of INR 40 lakh ballooned 18 times to INR 7.2 crore (USD 1.13m approx) before he was secured by Royals. Archer has been “in the spotlight for his fiery pace and dead-eye fielding for Hobart Hurricanes down under.