The report by the Directorate-General for Health, for the week of December 26 to January 1, records a 5.1% increase in emergency episodes for all causes (124,021 episodes) compared to the previous week, but a reduction in proportion of cases due to flu-like illness (0.8%; -0.1 percentage points compared to the previous week) and respiratory infections (10.7%; -0.4 percentage points).

“When compared with previous flu seasons, there was an earlier increase in the number of emergency episodes due to flu syndrome, however, still lower than that seen in seasons prior to 2020”, says the Seasonal Health Response Report – Surveillance and Monitoring.

The highest number of emergency flu cases was in people aged between 19 and 59 years (41.8%), followed by people aged 65 or over (28.1%), refer to the data, pointing to an increase of cases due to flu syndrome that required hospitalization (13.1%; + 0.4 percentage points compared to the previous week).

The proportion of patients with flu in intensive care units (ICU) increased slightly (1.1%), and since the beginning of the season most patients were over 65 years old (55.8%) and most ( 81.4%) with an underlying chronic disease.

On January 1, 354 cases of people hospitalized with covid-19 were reported (-4% compared to the previous week), of which 35 were in the ICU (-24%), says the report, adding that this figure corresponds to 13 .7% of the alert level of 255 occupied ICU beds.

The report also notes “a possible downward trend” in the number of ward admissions for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in children under two years of age.

General mortality “was within expectations for the time of year” and specific mortality from covid-19 showed a downward trend, below the threshold recommended by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), advances the report.

According to the data, flu vaccination coverage (74%) is close to that recommended by the ECDC and the World Health Organization (75%) for age groups aged 65 and over.