Tayside health bosses issue fresh advice amid surge in Australian flu reports

The entrance to A&E in Ninewells

Tayside health chiefs have issued fresh medical advice amid a three-fold rise in reports of flu at hospitals and surgeries.

The Tele reported earlier this week that A&E waiting time performance had slumped in the days between Christmas and New Year.

NHS Tayside’s chief executive Lesley McLay said “exceptional” levels of influenza were to blame.

The health board has reported a three-fold increase in reports of flu and flu-like symptoms at hospitals and in community health centres.

Dr Jackie Hyland, NHS Tayside consultant in public health medicine, has now issued advice on how to contain the spread of flu.

Dr Hyland said: “The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

“You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary.

“Stay off work or school until you’re feeling better. For most people, this will take about a week.”

Lorna Wiggin, chief operating officer, said staff were coping well and plans were in place to respond to the additional demand.

She added: “We are using all our available capacity, working closely with our partner agencies and our doctors, nurses and managers are meeting several times a day to closely monitor the number of admissions and the beds we have available.

“We are also working closely with our GP colleagues to respond to the continuing clinical demand.”

Ms Wiggin advised those with the flu to avoid visiting friends in hospital to minimise the spread of infection.

Speculation that the strain hitting Tayside and elsewhere in Scotland is so-called “Australian flu” has been debunked by Dr Gregor Smith, deputy chief medical officer for NHS Scotland.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament, Dr Smith said the strain of influenza currently doing the rounds is not the same as that causing trouble Down Under.

He wrote: “The predominant strain in Scotland is not the same strain that was predominant in Australia.”

He added that those who are eligible for flu vaccines — such as primary school children, over-65s and pregnant women — should take advantage of it to protect themselves.