Influenza cases in South Australia (SA) have spiked, prompting concerns about pressure on the hospital system.
According to data released by SA Health, the number of confirmed flu cases in the state surged by 673 to 1,868 in the past seven days, reports Xinhua news agency.
It comes as health authorities warn that a spike in flu and Covid-19 cases could put severe pressure on the health system.
Chris Picton, SA’s Health Minister, urged everyone to take up free flu vaccines and “do their bit” to save lives.
“This is a concern as our hospitals and hardworking staff manage both Covid and flu cases, and normal winter demand,” he told News Corp Australia.
“You can protect yourself and your loved ones, and stay out of hospital this winter.”
The Guardian Australia on Thursday published data revealing the number of workers who took sick leave in the first half of May was 50 percent higher than the long-term average.
Karen Price, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), said levels of illness in the community were unusually high.
“We’ve got a larger proportion of the population who have not been exposed to viruses much in the last two years, other than Covid, of which there is still high community transmission,” she said.
“It’s not that the flu is any more severe in nature than normal, the problem is that we just don’t have any cross-immunity built up because we haven’t really had a flu season in the last two years. There is just no baseline immunity.”
In the year to date in 2022, there have been 38,743 notifications reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) in Australia, of which 26,193 notifications had a diagnosis date this fortnight, more than three times the notifications in the previous fortnight, according to Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates, which was last updated on May 27.
“From mid-April 2022, the weekly number of notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza reported in Australia has exceeded the five-year average,” said the report.
Australia on Thursday reported more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases and more than 40 deaths, according to the health department figures from states and territories.