Flu claims five more victims in hospitals

Five more patients in Canterbury hospitals have died from complications of the flu.

So far eight people have died this year.

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Cheryl Brunton said yesterday five patients have died in Christchurch Hospital, two in Burwood Hospital and one in a rural facility.

There have been 577 influenza-related hospitalisations this year.

Dr Brunton said influenza-like illness rates and influenza-related hospital admissions remain above average for this time of year.

Positive influenza identifications increased again in the past week; influenza A continues to dominate. Respiratory syncytial virus identifications have continued to increase.”

“The flu is much more than a common cold. In New Zealand, flu-related illnesses cause around 400 deaths a year and account for 45 per cent of sick days each winter,” she said.

Riccarton Medical Practice manager Angela Hendry said the clinic is having to work efficiently to keep up with demand.

“It’s been very busy . . . it’s been extraordinarily busy everywhere,” she said.

“Compared to last year where there didn’t really even appear to be a flu season as such.”

The practice is encouraging people who suspect they might have the flu to stay at home or wear a mask and use hand wash if they come in for an appointment.

CDHB forecasters predict by August, it could expect 450-500 admissions related to the flu a week.