Press release

Substantial increases in the number of respiratory illnesses and hospitalisations

Published: 10 January 2024

Updated: 31 January 2024


Information:

Provisional data for first week in 2024 available on the HPSC Respiratory Virus Notification Data Hub

The HSE has today published provision 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 this afternoon 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.

After several weeks of a decreasing trend, RSV increased slightly in week 1 compared to the previous week with over 465 cases, of whom 147 were hospitalised. RSV activity peaked in early December and declined throughout December. This slight increase is usual in early January, following socialisation over the Christmas period and the return to school/child care. The increase in RSV in early January each season is generally at a lower level than the initial peak of activity.

We reiterate health advice. 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.

Winter Vaccines


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