The HSE has this week issued provisional data for the first week of 2024, showing substantial increases in the numbers of cases of respiratory illnesses and hospitalisations arising from them. Pressure is increasing on the hospital systems and it is expected that influenza activity will continue to rise towards a peak in the coming weeks.

Provisional data published earlier this week on the HPSC Respiratory Virus Notification Data Hub which includes notified cases and outbreaks of COVID-19, influenza, and RSV, shows that week one of this year has seen 1,628 cases of flu, of whom 414 were hospitalised. This is the highest number of influenza cases and hospitalisations so far this winter season, and nearly double what was recorded the week preceding Christmas.

During week one we also recorded 1,200 cases of COVID-19, of whom 459 were hospitalised. This is the highest number of COVID-19 cases seen since the last COVID-19 wave in August 2023

HSE’s health advice that if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or Influenza and feel unwell, you should:

Stay at home until 48 hours after your symptoms are mostly or fully gone
Avoid contact with other people, especially people at higher risk from COVID-19.
Seek further advice if you are unwell and you are aged 65 years or older; if you’re pregnant; if you have a chronic medical condition or a weakened immune system, or if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days or become progressively worse.

It’s also not too late for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated for flu and COVID to get their vaccine if they’re eligible because it will help prevent serious illness and it will help prevent the spread of these illnesses to people who are more vulnerable. Vaccination is particularly encouraged for people who are at a higher risk of severe illness, like pregnant women or those aged over 65. Health and care workers should get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and patients.

You can go to the GP or pharmacy to get your vaccine.