After high levels of flu seen this Winter, numbers of those with the illness have started to decrease.

Overall weekly influenza-like illness (ILI) rates across the UK continue to decrease compared to the previous week, the latest Public Health England (PHE) data shows. GP consultation rates have fallen from 34.0 per 100,000 compared to 43.0 – although these rates remain above the medium intensity threshold of 24.2 for this season.

The statistics show that there ‘has been a 21% decline in GP consultation rates with ILI, a 9% reduction in the flu hospitalisation rate and a 7% reduction in the flu intensive care admission rate’, according to PHE.

PHE said that the main strains circulating continue to be flu A (H3N2) and flu B.

Not over yet

Although levels are decreasing, flu continues to circulate across the UK.

In the week prior to 11 February 2018, 104 new acute respiratory outbreaks were reported in comparison with 95 in the previous week.

The UK has been experiencing its worst flu season in the past seven year, with ILI consultations reaching a record high so far of 54.1 in January in England.

‘Significant excess’

Since December 2017, there has been a significant excess of mortality from all causes in people aged over 65 in England.

This is currently similar to the excess mortality observed last season and lower than in 2014 to 2015.

PHE said that ‘these excess deaths can’t with certainty be attributed to specific causes but flu and the very cold weather that some areas have seen since Christmas are likely to be contributing factors’.

The national pharmacy flu service was recommissioned for 2018/19, with increased funding to allow pharmacists to buy different vaccines for specific patient groups.