“The flu season is already making its impact felt around the country, with more patients presenting to NSW emergency departments so far in 2019 than in any other six-month period,” Vicky Sheppeard, NSW’s director of Communicable Disease, said in a statement.
According to data released separately by Australia’s six states and two territories, at least 228 people have already been killed by the flu and more than 100,000 have been infected compared to only 58,824 in 2018.
“We’re having one of our worst seasons so far… we expect the peak will come between July and September,” Richard Kidd, chair of the Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice, told the Australian Associated Press on Saturday (June 29).
“Influenza is nothing like the common cold. It’s serious and can be lethal.”
More than 100 deaths and 49,000 cases have been reported in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, Australia’s two biggest states, since January alone.
In South Australia, where the population is approximately one-quarter of the size of Victoria, there have been 18,500 confirmed cases of influenza and 44 deaths.
The outbreak is happening despite more than 11 million people having being vaccinated against the virus under a programme subsidised by the government.
James Day, a 43-year-old Victorian man, had the vaccination but died from the flu only one week after being diagnosed, leaving behind a wife and a young son.