The deadly flu outbreak will become an epidemic and deaths will triple in the UK within two weeks, reveals a projection of official figures.
An analysis of data released yesterday showed the percentage increase of people reporting flu-like symptoms to their GP in the home nations.
A projection of flu fatalities was also made for England, after it saw deaths rocket by 77 per cent in the space of a week as aggressive ‘Aussie’ and ‘Japanese’ strains wreak havoc in the UK.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw symptoms of flu rise by more than 130 per cent between the last week of December and the first in January.
If the current trend continues, MailOnline predicts Wales will hit epidemic levels by next week. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow the week after. The projections have all been plotted on graphs compared to last year’s rates.
Dr Derek Gatherer, from Lancaster University’s biomedical and life sciences department, told MailOnline that if the current trends continue then it would become a ‘crisis’.
The new analysis comes as 85 deaths have now been recorded in England and eight in Scotland. If the trend continues, deaths in England are expected to triple by the end of the month. No data exists for Wales or Northern Ireland.
At least three fatalities have come to light in recent days, and include 18-year-old Scottish girl, Bethany Walker, who died from one of the flu bugs sweeping the UK.
Scores have also taken to social media to describe their ordeal as they battle the virus. They include a London-based taxi driver who claimed he has been left suicidal from ‘Aussie flu’, while a 29-year-old mother fears her three-week struggle will never end.
|WEEK 48||WEEK 49||WEEK 50||WEEK 51||WEEK 52||WEEK 1||WEEK 2||WEEK 3||WEEK 4|
Currently, Scotland is reporting the highest number of GP consultations for flu in the UK – rising from 46.3 per 100,000 people to 107.2 per 100,000 people.
This is more than double the amount in Northern Ireland (52.6) and almost triple that of Wales (38.9). In contrast, England’s rate is 37.3.
Officials class an outbreak as reaching epidemic levels when flu-like symptoms being reported in GP consultations hit a certain rate.
Each of the home nations has a different level, with England’s being set at 109 cases per 100,000 people. In Scotland it is 419, Northern Ireland 142 and Wales 75.
Between the last week of December, dubbed 51, and the first week of January, dubbed one, England saw a 77 per cent jump in flu symptoms.
Using this percentage, it can be predicted that England will reach epidemic levels by week three – before the end of January.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all saw jumps of between 131 and 132 per cent in flu symptoms. These figures were used for their projections.
Scotland and Northern Ireland will hit epidemic levels at the same time as England. Wales will reach its epidemic threshold by next week, if current trends continue.
Dr Gatherer told MailOnline the figures in Scotland were ‘striking’ and said if it continues then it would become a crisis.
He said: ‘At that point we would have to think seriously about how we address the crisis by really putting a lot of effort into making sure people get vaccinated.’
‘There might then be things like public health campaigns to encourage people to wash their hands more.’
Dr Gatherer added that if the projections do come true, it would then be the ‘worst season since 2010/11’ as that is ‘essentially as bad as we’ve ever known a seasonal flu to get’.