Flu cases put extra strain on Western NSW health care system

TARGET GROUP: "To date, all flu-related deaths in NSW this year have been people aged over 60," according to a spokesperson for Western NSW Local Health District.
TARGET GROUP: "To date, all flu-related deaths in NSW this year have been people aged over 60," according to a spokesperson for Western NSW Local Health District.

This year an extraordinary amount of people with flu symptoms have presented to hospitals and health care centres in Parkes and NSW.

The number of flu cases in Central West has blown out to over 1000.

Emergency departments have seen a large increase of presentations with influenza-like symptoms this flu season.

This year to Wednesday, July 17, there has been 1256 case of flu reported in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD).

During the same period in 2018 there were 67 cases reported.

"The WNSWLHD is seeing a higher than usual Influenza activity across the district which is in line with activity across Australia," a WNSWLHD spokesperson said.

"The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 6234 flu cases for the week ending July 7.

"Up 5590 notifications the previous week and four additional deaths.

To date, all flu-related deaths in NSW this year have been people aged over 60.

"Bringing the annual total to 70 confirmed deaths across NSW. To date, all flu-related deaths in NSW this year have been people aged over 60," she said.

NSW Health are urging people to avoid visiting loved ones in aged care centres if you're unwell.

Everyone is also being encouraged to get the flu vaccination every year.

"If you have symptoms of flu it's important to prevent the spread by coughing and sneezing into your elbow, washing your hands regularly and staying at home if you're unwell," the WNSWLHD spokesperson said.

There have been 126 confirmed influenza outbreaks in aged-care facilities around NSW, 14 of which were reported this week.

"There are a number of people that can receive the influenza vaccination free of charge, these groups of people are generally those that have poorer outcomes if they acquire the flu," the WNSWLHD spokesperson said.

The vaccination is free for children from six months to five years of age, Aboriginal people six months and older, pregnant women, people with serious underlying health conditions and people aged 65 and older.