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The country is in the grip of a “twindemic” of flu and Covid, putting the NHS under massive strain, top doctors have warned.
Today the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued fresh advice as hospitals battle soaring rates of not only Covid-19 and flu, but the potentially deadly Strep A infection.
Today Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at UKHSA, said that anyone experiencing symptoms of any of those conditions should avoid going out and visiting vulnerable people unless it's urgent.
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She added that mask-wearing was advisable, and called on parents to do whatever possible to prevent flu, Covid, and Strep A sweeping through schools.
Professor Hopkins said in a statement: "It’s important to minimise the spread of infection in schools and other education and childcare settings as much as possible.
"If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has resolved."
She added: "Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.
"Remember that flu vaccination is still available for all eligible groups and is the best protection against the virus.
"We have seen good uptake in older age groups but vaccination among young children remains low. Flu can be very unpleasant and in some cases can lead to more serious illness."
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Royal College of Emergency Medicine chief Dr Adrian Boyle said this winter was likely to be the worst on record for A&E wait times, as hospitals were hit with rocketing demand driven by flu, Covid, and Strep A.
He added: “We think between 300 to 500 people are dying as a consequence of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care each week. We need to get a grip of this.
Waiting time figures for December have yet to be released. Dr Boyle said he’d be “amazed” if they weren’t the worst yet.
Figures published by NHS England late last week showed a total of 3,746 patients a day were in hospital with flu last week, up from 520 a month earlier. Of these, 267 were receiving critical care.
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