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Eight people have now died from flu-related illness with three deaths in the past week

Figures from the PHA reveal that flu rates in Northern Ireland have continued to increase

FLU rates in Northern Ireland have continued to increase over the past week, according to the latest figures from the Public Health Agency (PHA).

There has also been another three flu-related deaths over the last week, bringing the total number this winter in the north to eight.

In its latest bulletin, the PHA said that over the past seven days there has been a rise in the number of people attending GP surgeries and out-of-hours services in the north with flu-like symptoms.

The latest report shows that GP consultation rates increased from 52.6 per 100,000 population in the first week of January to 65.2 per 100,000 in the second week of the year.

The number of patients visiting out-of-hours services with flu-like symptoms also rose from 24 per 100,000 population in week one to 29.1 per 100,000 in the second week of January.

While the PHA said the proportion of all positive influenza specimens fell slightly from 48 per cent in the first week of 2018 to 45 per cent in week two, there was a rise in the influenza B strain over the same period from 13 percent to 15 percent.

But the PHA said the data still "indicates a moderate seasonal flu activity".

The figures also reveal that the number of detections of influenza on hospital wards across the north has decreased from 274 in week one to 237 in week two.

There was also 19 cases of influenza reported in intensive care units in the second week of this year with another three deaths reports in week two.

The PHA has previously urged people try to prevent flu from spreading.

Dr Lucy Jessop from the PHA said: "If you do become unwell with flu or flu-like symptoms, you should stay at home - most cases of flu are likely to be mild and can be managed at home with over-the-counter remedies.

"For most people it will have resolved within a week, if not you should speak to your GP.

"Those in at-risk groups, may be more susceptible to serious illness and you should contact your GP earlier if you have a high temperature or shortness of breath for advice."

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