About this release

This weekly release by Public Health Scotland presents epidemiological information on respiratory infection activity, including COVID-19, across Scotland.

Main points

Overall assessment 13 November 2023 to 19 November 2023 (ISO week 46):

  • Measures of respiratory symptoms in the community and via attendances at GP consultations (NHS24 and GP ILI) show Baseline activity levels of respiratory disease activity during the reporting period.
  • In the CARI community surveillance system, which tests for ten different pathogens, rhinovirus swab positivity increased slightly to 26.2%, from 25.2% the previous week. This was followed by RSV with a swab positivity of 12.2%, which was a decrease from 13.0% the previous week. Swab positivity for M. pneumoniae decreased slightly to 6.3% from 7.8% the previous week and COVID-19 increased slightly to 7.4% from 6.1% the previous week.
  • Virology data show influenza circulated at Low activity level. RSV remained at Extraordinary activity level. For RSV, all age groups under 15 years were at Extraordinary activity level. Mycoplasma pneumoniae and rhinovirus were at Low activity level.
  • The overall number of emergency hospital admissions because of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 increased since the last week. The largest proportion of admissions were for RSV. ICU/HDU admissions remained low.
  • All-cause excess mortality for week 43 (week ending 29 October 2023, the latest week not impacted by reporting delays) remained at Baseline activity level overall and for all age groups.
  • Since 4 September 2023 (the current Winter 2023 vaccination programme) 1,332,104 Influenza (Adult 18+), 379,840 Influenza (Children 6 months to 17 years) and 1,102,241 COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Scotland. Among adults aged 75 years and older, 75.3% have been vaccinated against influenza and 74.9% have been vaccinated against COVID-19 during the current vaccination programme.

Background

Tracking infectious respiratory diseases, including COVID-19 and influenza, is essential, especially in the winter when the disease burden can be highest. In Scotland, respiratory infection and associated morbidity are monitored using enhanced surveillance. This approach combines data from microbiological sampling and laboratory test results from community and hospital settings with data from syndromic surveillance of NHS 24 calls, primary care consultations for respiratory symptoms, hospital (including intensive care) admissions and other settings.

The intelligence generated from surveillance of laboratory, syndromic and settings provide a comprehensive picture of current respiratory illness in Scotland. The data presented in this report provide a comprehensive and timely epidemiological picture that is essential for understanding transmission of infection and supporting patient care and NHS service planning and policy.

Seasonality patterns / seasonal variations

Respiratory illnesses are associated with seasonal increase in the autumn and winter. Seasonality patterns for both influenza viruses and non-influenza respiratory pathogens have been established through many years of surveillance data. Most influenza and non-influenza pathogens circulate in the autumn and winter in Scotland, although some are known to circulate in the spring and summer. Notably, COVID-19 transmission has been occurring in waves throughout the year as observed from surveillance data since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Further information

The next release will be 30 November 2023.

Find out more

Previous Publications

Versions of the Weekly national respiratory report publication released before 30 November 2022 may be found on the Public Health Scotland website.

Versions of the COVID-19 weekly statistical report publication released before 30 November 2022 may be found on the Public Health Scotland website.

Open data

Open data from this publication is available from the following weblinks:

Further data

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.flu@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 29 November 2023
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