NSW Health Warns Of High Seasonal Influenza Activity

NSW Health is urging the community to protect themselves against serious illness as cases of flu and emergency presentations continue to rise across the state. 

NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report shows in the week ending 15 June 2024, there was an increase of 33 per cent in people diagnosed with influenza compared with the previous week.

“The latest data also showed an increase in the number of people who presented to NSW emergency departments (EDs) with influenza-like illness, and some increase in admissions from EDs as well,” Dr McAnulty said.

“The high level of flu activity is concerning, and we expect this to continue in the coming weeks. Influenza is more serious than the common cold. It can cause pneumonia, make chronic underlying medical conditions like diabetes, lung and heart disease much worse requiring hospital admission and causing death.

“Complications can occur in anyone but are most likely in those at higher risk of severe illness.

“Vaccination is the best protection against infection and severe disease. Everyone, but particularly those at higher risk of severe disease, is urged to get their influenza vaccination now; it’s not too late to get vaccinated. By getting vaccinated you also help protect those around you.”

People who are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza who are eligible for free vaccination include:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • pregnant women
  • people with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease.

 Dr McAnulty said flu was highly contagious and urged people to avoid visiting high-risk settings including hospitals and aged care facilities if they are experiencing symptoms.

“If you have flu symptoms it is important to stay home and avoid contact with others until after your symptoms have gone,” Dr McAnulty said.

There are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones from respiratory viruses like COVID-19, influenza and RSV, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including handwashing.

/Public Release. View in full here.