GREAT BRITAIN could be hit by an early influenza epidemic as cases are already increasing in other countries, a high-level expert has warned.
Dr John McCauley said the spike in cases in Croatia, India and China could indicate an earlier wave of infections in the UK this year.
Although the flu season in the UK typically lasts from September to March, the NHS usually doesn’t start to feel the pressure until January.
But Dr McCauley – a prominent influenza scientist based at the Francis Crick Institute – says Britons may have to prepare for an increase in cases early in this flu season due to an increase in infections with the flu. ‘foreigner.
He told MailOnline: “It is over the next few weeks that we will be able to say whether what we are seeing now is supported. If so, we could expect an early flu season. ‘
“The flu is caught in some places, but it is not known for sure whether it is spreading in some of them (eg Norway and the Netherlands).
“On the other hand, Croatia has seen influenza activity for the past four weeks. I don’t know if it will continue over the next few weeks.
“There has been influenza in China since January, but at somewhat lower levels than two years ago.
“India also had the flu – but it’s hard to know how widespread it is in such a large country.”
It comes after a leading doctor warned Britons would face a deadly double act of flu and Covid this winter amid waning immunity.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said those who catch both diseases at the same time are twice as likely to die as patients with coronavirus alone.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky, Dr Harries said the public “should be worried about the flu every winter”.
“On average over the past five years, around 11,000 people have died [per year] with flu-related conditions, ”she said.
“The important thing about this winter is that we’re probably going to see the flu, for the first time in real numbers, co-circulate with Covid.
“The risks of both together remain.
“Early evidence suggests that you are twice as likely to die from the two together as from Covid alone.”
Meanwhile, health chiefs have warned flu deaths could reach 60,000 this winter after closures and social distancing saw immunity plummet.
It is believed the UK could experience the worst death rate in 50 years as Britons’ ability to fight the virus was weakened after orders to stay at home.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “Few people got the flu last year due to Covid restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity as there is. habit.
“We will see the flu circulating this winter; it could be higher than usual and this makes it a significant public health problem. “
He added: “It is really important that people get their vaccines as soon as they can. ”
Many viruses – including the flu, RSV, and noroviruses – spread more during cold months.
Health officials fear that flu deaths this year may be the highest since 1968, when the Hong Kong flu swept through the UK.
According to a study released earlier this year by the Academy of Medical Sciences, there were concerns that 60,000 people would lose their lives, compared to an annual average of 11,000.
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the-sun : Britain should prepare for early flu outbreak as cases ALREADY increase overseas, top expert warns