REVISION 30 March 2023: This summary has been revised. The published date was previously incorrect, this has now been corrected from 30 April 2023 to 30 March 2023. No data or other narrative has been changed, only the published date narrative
About this release
This is a weekly release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) on epidemiological information on seasonal respiratory infection activity in Scotland including COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care services have functioned differently now compared to previous winter respiratory seasons, so the consultation rates are not directly comparable to historical data.
Overall assessment for week 12 (week ending 26 March 2023):
- The proportion of NHS24 calls that were for respiratory symptoms in week 12 remained at Baseline activity level
- Influenza remained at Baseline activity level (1.7 per 100,000 population). There were 94 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases: 17 type A (not subtyped), one A(H3), one A(H1N1)pdm09 and 75 type B. This compares to 86 laboratory-confirmed cases reported during week 11
- Seasonal coronavirus (non-SARS-CoV-2), adenovirus, HMPV and parainfluenza remained at Low activity level. Rhinovirus decreased from Moderate to Low activity level
- In the Community Acute Respiratory Infection (CARI) sentinel surveillance programme, rhinovirus was the most commonly detected pathogen in week 12, with a swab positivity of 18.8%. Influenza B decreased to 3.8% in week 12 but continued to remain higher than influenza A. SARS-CoV-2 decreased in week 12 to 7.5%. Parainfluenza which increased last week remained stable at 7.2% in week 12
- The overall number of emergency hospital admissions associated with RSV, influenza and SARS-CoV-2 has decreased from the high plateau seen in weeks 51 and 52. However, recent admissions have been increasing since week 08. The largest proportion of admissions in week 11 2023 (90%) was for SARS-CoV-2, with the individual number of admissions for SARS-CoV-2 showing an increase, whilst RSV decreased, and influenza numbers increased
- In Scotland, in the week ending 13 March 2023, the estimated number of people testing positive for COVID-19 was 136,200 (95% credible interval: 91,000 to 190,400), equating to 2.59% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people (Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK - Office for National Statistics)
- There were on average 1,323 patients in hospital with COVID-19, a 17.0% increase from the previous week ending 19 March 2023 (1,131)
- As part of the Winter 2022 vaccination programme 1,987,617 people have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and 1,932,813 adults have been vaccinated for influenza
Surveillance of respiratory disease pathogens is a key public health activity as infection is associated with appreciable levels of morbidity and mortality, especially during the winter months and particularly among those at risk of complications, including the elderly, children under two years of age, those with chronic health problems, and pregnant women.
Respiratory infection can be caused by a number of pathogens and there is no single surveillance system or data source that can describe the onset, severity and impact of SARS-CoV-2, influenza and other respiratory pathogens, or the success of any control measures. In Scotland, respiratory infection levels and their impact are monitored using various sources of data, including microbiological sampling and laboratory test results from community and hospital settings, NHS 24 calls, primary care consultations, and hospital (including intensive care) admissions. The intelligence generated from these different data sources provide a comprehensive picture of current respiratory illness in Scotland.
Seasonality patterns and variations
Many respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are typically associated with a seasonal increase in the autumn and winter. These seasonal patterns have been established based on many years of surveillance data. However, in some cases, circulation of these pathogens have deviated from their usual seasonal trends due to changes in social mixing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As yet, SARS-CoV-2 has not been shown to follow the same seasonal patterns as other respiratory pathogens. Increases in infections outside the winter season may be occurring for a variety of reasons, including the emergence of new variants and time-varying fluctuations in population immunity associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The next release of this publication will be 6 April 2023.
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)
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