Flu rates fall slightly after 34 deaths, HSE says

Most of the deaths reported this winter have been among those aged 65 and older

To date, 1,672 confirmed cases of flu have been reported, and 88 people have been admitted to critical care. File photograph: Alan Betson

To date, 1,672 confirmed cases of flu have been reported, and 88 people have been admitted to critical care. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Thirty-four people have died from flu so far this winter but the virus is on the decline, according to the Health Service Executive.

Flu rates fell slightly last week and it is likely the virus will continue to circulate in the community for at least another four weeks, it said.

The number of hospitalisations was also down last week, with those aged under five most affected. To date, 1,672 confirmed cases of flu have been reported, and 88 people have been admitted to critical care. Most of the deaths reported this winter have been among those aged 65 and older.

The HSE says it is still not too late to get the flu vaccine, especially for at-risk groups. This year’s vaccine is a good match for the strain predominating this winter.

Overall, hospital emergency departments have been “challenged” over the past two weeks as the number of patients attending increased.

Last week, patient attendances were up almost 5 per cent on the same week last year, despite the nurses’ strike.

The busiest day was last Monday, immediately prior to the three days of planned industrial action by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. This was suspended after the Labour Court issued settlement proposals.

According to the HSE, almost half of over 75-year-olds took more than the target time of nine hours to pass through emergency departments.

The number of delayed discharges is also on the rise, up to 665 this week, a 13 per cent increase on last week.