The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) says that flu transmission is currently at a moderate level and that circulation is declining.
Based on historical data over a number of years, the NICD has seasonal thresholds which show the number of cases ranging from low to moderate, high, and very high rates.
Dr Sibongile Walaza, an epidemiologist at the NICD, explains that seasonal thresholds help to determine the rate at which influenza is moving.
“From week 17 onwards, we started seeing the detection rate above the threshold so the activity was low and continues to move between low and moderate.”
As of 18 June 2023 , 828 flu cases were detected by the NICD’s surveillance programme. 98% of cases were infected with the A(H3N2) strain of flu.
The Western Cape reported the majority of cases (280) followed by Gauteng (225) , North West (127) , KwaZulu-Natal (90) , Mpumalanga
( 65) , Eastern Cape (37) , and Limpopo and the Free State at 2 each.
How many hospitalisations due to flu this season?
The NICD says to date, just under 4000 people were tested for influenza and 8% of them tested positive. But Walaza says there is currently no available data on the number of people hospitalised. This data will become available at the end of the flu season.
How many deaths are caused by the flu?
According to the NICD, on average, the flu kills 7 000-12 000 people every year. Data collection for 2023 is still ongoing.
How to manage severe cases of the flu?
Walaza says people should get the influenza vaccine, especially those who are at higher risk of severe illness. This includes people who have underlying conditions, the elderly over the age of 65 years, people living with HIV, people who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women.
“We also encourage people who are sick to stay away from work as much as possible. Practise social distancing and avoid being too close to people who are sick.”
Masks as prevention and management
At the moment, there’s no mandatory recommendation for people to wear masks. However, Walaza says individuals who perceive themselves at risk of severe influenza-associated illnesses and complications may choose to wear masks especially if they are in crowded spaces, or in poorly ventilated spaces. – Health-e News