In Spain, the New Year has begun with a significant increase in Influenza cases, with the latest data showing that there are currently 54.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
According to the latest weekly report of The Influenza Surveillance System in Spain, the flu season is characterised by a predominant circulation of the virus, commonly referred to as A (H1N1) pdm09.
From the beginning of the 2019-2020 season so far, 55.5% of the notified detections are type A, 80% of virus A (H1N1) pdm09 and 44.5% are type B.
The report also states that 91% of confirmed serious hospitalised cases of Influenza are Influenza A viruses and that of those, 44% of the cases are from the over 64 years of age group with 30% from the 45 - 64 year age group.
Children under the age of four remain the most affected by the flu so far this season, with about 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Amparo Larrauri from the Carlos III Health Institute said, "It is estimated that in the last two seasons of influenza, epidemics have produced between 500,000 and 700,000 cases of mild disease treated in primary care; between 35,000 and 52,000 hospitalizations with influenza, and between 2,500 and 3,000 admissions in ICU with laboratory-confirmed influenza."
"Using population models, it has been estimated that in the last two seasons, the flu may have been responsible for up to 15,000 deaths attributable to this disease."
In Murcia alone, the rate of Influenza cases rose to 67 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the second week of January. A total of 21 patients were hospitalised (at present there are no reported fatalities) meaning staffing resources were stretched with 150 more medics taken on and 150 extra beds being made available to deal with the influx.
To meet the rising demand in hospitals, health centres and emergency services across Andalucia, the Andalucian department of health has 2,617 medical professionals ready to reinforce its staff.
According to official figures provided by the Junta. This is an increase of 367 in recruitment compared to that during the 2018 and 2019 flu campaign.
As a preventative measure, there has been a total of 1,122,749 vaccines distributed throughout the region and of these 694,082 have been for senior citizens over 65 years of age.
The number of vaccinations distributed was 115,721 more than in the previous campaign (2018-2019). An increase of 11.4 per cent.
It has been estimated that these seasonal epidemics of Influenza cause 3 to 5 million serious cases worldwide, and that shockingly between 300,000 and 650,000 deaths are related to the virus. Most of these deaths are of people over the age of 65 who are at greater risk and are encouraged to have the ‘Flu Jab’ around October each year.
Health experts believe that this years epidemic will last between two and three months, reaching around 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.