Confirmed influenza rates in Australia double that of 2018

Department of Health figures have revealed there have been more than 17,000 confirmed cases of influenza in Australia this year, with an average of 28 per 100,000 people.

Vic Health described this season as one of the largest summer outbreaks of flu the State had seen, after a young Victorian child died from influenza.

New South Wales has also seen a surge in influenza cases. NSW Health asked residents with flu-like symptoms to avoid visiting elderly relatives as February saw eight outbreaks in aged care facilities across the State.

“Unusually high levels of influenza activity are being seen in most states and territories, with the national reporting rate more than three times the average for this time of year,” NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch Director, Dr Vicky Sheppeard said.

“Residents of aged care facilities will have little immunity left from last year’s flu vaccine, so it’s important to not expose them to the risk of influenza.”

WHO’s pandemic strategy

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the increase in confirmed cases presents the threat of an influenza pandemic, and countries are now being urged to prepare for the worst.

“The ongoing risk of a new influenza virus transmitting from animals to humans and potentially causing a pandemic is real,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

“The question is not if we will have another pandemic, but when. We must be vigilant and prepared – the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention.”

WHO’s recently released Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030 reveals ways to control the spread of the virus from animals to humans, prevent seasonal influenza and prepare for future  pandemics.


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