Flu reaches epidemic levels

Prague will see rising rates of the infected for several weeks

Flu season has hit Prague, and numbers of the infected are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.

Respiratory infections or influenza have affected about 1,300 of every 100,000 inhabitants of the city in the past week, according to data from the Prague Hygiene Station based on reports from medical professionals.

Clinics last week saw 21.6 percent more patients than in the previous week.
The largest jump in cases was in the age group of 15 to 24 years, which was up 27 percent compared to the previous week.

Most of the sick so afar are preschoolers and students, as the virus spreads quickly in school settings where lots of people interact in enclosed spaces.

The largest number of the sick are children under 5 years old, with more than 3,000 per 100,000 inhabitants. The least affected population is people over 60 years of age.

In total, there were 166,733 reported cases. Prague has a population of 1.29 million.

Doctors have treated nine people in the past week with severe flu, and three people have died in Prague from flu or respiratory infection since the beginning of the year.

Across the Czech Republic, the infection rate has risen by 25 percent compared to the previous week. The situation in Prague is not isolated.

The best prevention of influenza is vaccination, however, it is now too late for that as the flu season is too far underway. Only about 5 percent of Praguers get the vaccine each year, one of the lowest rates in Europe.

To avoid getting the disease it is necessary to avoid contact with sick people. If that cannot be avoided, at least a meter distance should be maintained.

People should also avoid hospitals and waiting rooms if possible. Some hospitals have banned or restricted visits towards flu patients.

More than ever, people should maintain a proper diet and get enough sleep. Washing hands with soap and not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your bare hands also helps to reduce infection.

Complications to flu can include pneumonia or bronchitis.

People who are or might be infected should avoid contact with people over 60 years old, as this group is most likely to suffer severe complications requiring hospitalization.

The flu statistics so far are similar to those of the previous flu season, with a significant dip during Christmastime, when schools were closed, and then the start of an increasing pattern once schools reopen.

The flu season last year registered epidemic levels until the end of March. There were 67 serious illnesses and 17 deaths.

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