Concerning detail in ‘severe’ flu season

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant urged people over 65 to get vaccinated against influenza, amid rapidly rising rates of influenza cases across the state. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Nikki Short

NSW is headed for a “more severe flu season than usual” with the state recording a 25 per cent week-on-week surge in cases.

The latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report detailed a 22 per cent jump in people presenting to hospital emergency departments with flu-like illnesses.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said health authorities expected the flu figures to remain high for “several weeks to come”.

“Flu is rapidly increasing across the state,” she said.

NSW’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned high rates of influenza would be present in the community for weeks to come. Picture: NewsWire / Nikki Short

Dr Chant also urged Australians over 65 to get their free vaccination, with just 52.4 per cent of people in the age group currently vaccinated.

Two weeks ago, it was reported to be under the 50 per cent mark.

“This is particularly important for people aged 65 and over who are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza, and unfortunately our vaccination rates for this group still aren’t where we need them to be,” Dr Chant said.

Thursday’s report also warned community transmission of Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are also high, with 5370 new cases of Covid-19, 6722 new cases of influenza, and 2502 of RSV in the week to June 8.

There are worrying cases of the flu in NSW at the moment.
There are worrying cases of the flu in NSW at the moment.

Cases of Covid-19 were highest in the 65+ age group, while younger age groups dominated notifications of RSV and the flu.

Issuing a broad warning, NSW Health asked people not to visit high-risk settings, like hospitals and aged-care homes if they were symptomatic.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park echoed Dr Chant’s comments, and warned the state was expecting a “more severe flu season than usual”.

“We know that this is also being reflected in our emergency department presentations,” he said.

“But there are very simple steps we can take to reduce the spread and protect each other, and that’s to get your flu jab.

“They are free for eligible patients and you can access them from your GP or pharmacist.”