About this release
This weekly release by Public Health Scotland presents epidemiological information on respiratory infection activity, including COVID-19, across Scotland. Due to the dynamic nature of all datasets included in this report, figures contained within each update may be subject to change in future releases. Any revised figures will then be reflected within the latest update.
Overall assessment 29 January to 4 February (ISO week 5):
- Measures of respiratory symptoms in the community via calls to NHS24 remained at Baseline activity level. Attendances at GP consultations (GP ILI) increased from Baseline to Low activity level.
- In the CARI community surveillance system, swab positivity for influenza A decreased from 21.6% in the previous week to 17.6% in week 5. Swab positivity for rhinovirus decreased from 14.7% to 12.0%. Swab positivity for Mycoplasma pneumoniae remained elevated but stable at 11.6%. Swab positivity for other pathogens remained stable, below 10%.
- Virology data showed influenza decreased to Moderate activity level in week 5. All except 1-4 age group have shifted down to or remained at Moderate activity level. RSV decreased to Baseline activity level while Mycoplasma pneumoniae increased to Extraordinary activity level.
- Emergency hospital admissions because of influenza continued to decrease from 380 to 287, as did RSV, from 69 to 36 and COVID-19 from 239 to 198. ICU/HDU admissions increased slightly for influenza but remained at less than 5 for RSV. There were no COVID-19 ICU/HDU admissions.
- All-cause excess mortality for week 2 (week ending 14 January 2024, the latest week not impacted by reporting delays) decreased to Baseline activity level overall and for all age groups.
- In winter 2023/24, Scotland administered 1,649,156 Influenza (Adult 18+), 538,440 Influenza (Children 6 months to 17 years) and 1,390,079 COVID-19 vaccines since September 4, 2023. Among adults 65+, 79.9% received influenza, and 79.2% received COVID-19 vaccines by week 5. Uptake is lower for both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines compared to winter 2022/23.
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 community 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.
The next release will be on 15 February 2024.
Find out more
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 from this publication is available from the following weblinks:
- The COVID-19 Vaccine Wastage datafile was updated on 14 September 2023 to include the most recent information.
- The COVID-19 in Adult Care Homes in Scotland datafile was updated on 27 July 2023 to include more recent information.
- 28 September 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on COVID-19 infection and vaccination in pregnancy in Scotland.
- 2 March 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on Highest Risk (shielding patients list)
- 7 November 2023 Community Acute Respiratory Infection (CARI) surveillance in primary care contains information on flu Vaccine effectiveness in community settings.
- 25 May 2023 Interim 2022/23 influenza vaccine effectiveness: six European studies, October 2022 to January 2023, contains information on flu Vaccine effectiveness in hospital settings.
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