Fears of Covid and flu ‘twindemic’ rise

COVID is on the rise again in the North.
The latest Office for National Statistics figures last week revealed Covid is infecting one in 40 in Northern Ireland, compared to one in 80 previously.
Chief scientific advisor Professor Ian Young has warned of a new Covid wave on the horizon and a rise in cases.
Professor Young expected the increased transmission rates of the virus to become apparent in the coming weeks and he urged everyone eligible for flu and Covid vaccines to come forward for the jabs.
“I think all of those indicators are beginning to show early signs of an increase in transmission and I strongly expect that to become apparent in the next one to two weeks,” he said.
“The question is not going to be whether or not we have an increase of cases, the question is going to be – how large is that wave and its impact on further contributing to hospital pressures.”
He made the comments last week as he joined with Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Michael McBride and the Public Health Agency to urge eligible people to come forward for their Covid-19 and flu vaccines this winter.
There are fears of a flu and Covid ‘twindemic’ in the coming months, and those who qualify for free jabs should get them.
Fermanagh community pharmacists like Enniskillen’s Paul Hughes are offering Covid-19 vaccine services and he emphasised the need for local people to get the booster vaccination.
“There has been an increase in Covid recently and the number of cases have gone up,” he said. “This has also seen the number of hospital admissions go up as more vulnerable people get sick.
“The new booster is what you call bivalent, which means it has the original Covid plus the omicron strain, so you are getting double protection.”
A severe flu bug spreading this winter is another big worry.
“They reckon that this year’s flu strain is quite severe and could be nasty. We’re being advised to give both jabs together, but people can get them separately if they want to,” Mr Hughes said.
“Community pharmacies like this one can vaccinate anybody for free over 50. I’d advise people due a booster or a flu vaccine to get it.”
The rise in cases isn’t being driven by a new variant, with most of the latest infections due to Omicron variants of Covid, which have been circulating for some time.
People were also urged to remind themselves of the public health guidelines such as the likes of face coverings in enclosed spaces. Those who feel unwell should avoid vulnerable friends, colleagues and relatives as a precaution.
More than one million flu and Covid-19 vaccinations are to be offered to people in Northern Ireland this winter.

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