Officials preparing for ‘very significant flu season’ this autumn

Officials Preparing For ‘Very Significant Flu Season’ This Autumn
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said an upsurge in both flu and Covid-19 is expected. Photo: PA Images
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The Government is now preparing for “a very significant flu season” this autumn, according to the Minister for Health.

Stephen Donnelly said an upsurge in both flu and Covid-19 is expected, and officials are co-ordinating with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) and the chief medical officer on plans.


It comes as Australia is currently experiencing a record number of cases, signalling a post-pandemic flu revival.

“What we’re planning for is a combination of an early flu season, a very significant flu season, together with a surge in Covid,” said Mr Donnelly.

“Regardless of whether there’s a new variant of concern, people will be going back to work, people will be coming back from their holidays, people will begin to go back indoors again, and so that’s what we have to plan for.”

Covid positivity ‘unacceptably high’

Meanwhile, an infectious diseases expert has warned that Covid-19 test positivity is “unacceptably high” in Ireland at present.


With Tánaiste Leo Varadkar yesterday declaring Ireland to be past the latest summer surge of the disease, consultant Eoghan DeBarra said the true level of infection remains unclear due to the low levels of testing.

“Of course with any of the waves, we only really know when we have a consistent fall in the numbers, and as we know at the moment, we don’t have anything like the level of surveillance that we had in the past to be really sure,” he said.

“But I would certainly be optimistic and hope that that is the case.”

Ireland past peak of Covid summer wave, says Varad...
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Dr DeBarra, a consultant at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said the health service needs to be able to ramp-up testing in the coming months if new Covid-19 variants emerge.


“We have a positivity rate of about 30 per cent at the moment for PCR, so that’s unacceptably high, that means we’re missing an awful lot of infection,” he said.

“I don’t think we suddenly need to have a change in that strategy, but we need to have the ability to change, because again these variants haven’t posed huge threat with our vaccinated population but if that were to change, then we would need to have the ability to switch the testing systems back on.”

It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has dropped by almost a quarter in just over a week. The latest figures show 815 people hospitalised with the virus, down 23 per cent on a recent peak of 1,055 recorded on July 11th.

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