Canberra, March 9 (IANS) Australia has reported a 100-fold increase in influenza cases through the first two months of the year, according to the Department of Health,
Department data has revealed that there were 8,453 confirmed influenza cases through the first two months of 2023 — up from only 79 in the same period in 2022, reports Xinhua news agency.
Among the cases, 2,700 were children under 14, accounting for nearly one-third of the total.
The spike has been attributed to an increase in international travel, with people on return from northern hemisphere holidays.
There were more than 220,000 flu cases in Australia in 2022 and 308 deaths, both the highest figures since 2019 after Covid-19 restrictions drove cases down in 2020 and 2021.
More than half of the cases hospitalized for treatment in 2022 were younger than 16.
In order to protect the health system from a “double blow” of a spike in flu and coronavirus cases, some state governments in 2022 made influenza vaccinations free for people but has not announced plans to repeat the scheme.
Bruce Willett, vice president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said when flu vaccines become available from mid-March, every Australian should consider inoculation.
“While flu has a strong seasonal bent — it tends to be a late winter thing — of course, it does occur all year round,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday.
“It can be a significant illness for under-fives and even life-threatening.”