Current track




Triple whammy virus cocktail hitting Aussies

Written by on May 21, 2024

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has confirmed the state is currently experiencing a severe jump in flu cases.

Chief Health Officer Clare Looker said the state was currently dealing with a cocktail of elevated influenza, Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases as winter approaches.

“We’ve seen a significant jump in flu (cases),” she told 3AW.

Covid-19 hospitalisations spiked 37 per cent last week, however the coronavirus did not follow “neat” seasonal trends, Dr Looker said.

“Look I think we probably are in for a few more weeks where we will see high levels of activity. That number will probably go higher, in terms of hospital admissions,” Dr Looker said, adding wastewater testing showed there were high amounts of Covid-19 in the community.

People hospitalised were primarily over the age of 65, she said.

The spike in Covid-19 comes at an inopportune time.

“We’re in that time of year when flu rates and RSV rates always go up. But we’re seeing a significant jump in flu, again in the last fortnight, to about 75 per cent higher than it was two weeks ago.

“It’s probably a little bit higher than we saw last year, but not different in terms of the pattern,” Dr Looker said.

“What is different to covid is, we know that children are more vulnerable to flu and particularly RSV.”

While RSV normally causes mild, cold-like symptoms, it’s also one of the main causes of bronchiolitis when a person’s airways, or bronchioles, become infected.

Nearly 25 per cent of people in hospital with flu are under 10 years old.

About 1.3 million flu vaccines have been given this year, a few hundred thousand less than years past, Dr Looker said.

“We’re very keen that people understand how effective the flu vaccine is and that it is recommended right across age groups.”

Last week NSW Health’s latest reporting showed the week ending May 11 confirmed the start of this year’s influenza season, following an uptick in disease notifications and emergency department presentations in early May.

Released on Thursday, the report warned that cases would likely “rapidly increase over the next six to eight weeks and influenza activity will quickly reach high levels”.

NSW Health also warned it expected a “large number of people” to be infected with Covid-19, influenza and RSV, with all three viruses circulating this winter.

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