We've all been warned about the dangers of Aussie flu - but now the UK is facing another health risk.
There are serious concerns about a 'French flu' epidemic coming in from across the Channel, and since it's already claimed 30 lives in France, NHS workers are being urged to have flu jabs.
Our sister paper T he Mirror reports that in the last three weeks of December, 704,000 people in France consulted a GP over their illness and it's estimated that there are 527 cases of French flu per 100,000 inhabitants in the country.
Cases reported between Christmas and New Year affected people from the age of just three months to 93 years. Males accounted for 46% of these cases.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, NHS trusts are failing to get medical workers to have flu jabs amid the warnings that the French epidemic could spread to Britain.
The paper reports: “It comes amid a deepening NHS winter crisis, with 24 hospital trusts declaring ‘black alerts’ last week, as pressures threatened to overwhelm them, and thousands of patients stuck in ambulances outside hospitals as flu rates soar.”
It has been reported that around one quarter of NHS staff will contract flu during an average winter period.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that figures suggest around half will not show symptoms, which means they could remain in work and spread infections.
Warnings come after a study by Imperial College London which found every 10% increase in NHS vaccination rates was linked with a 10% fall in sickness absence.
Aussie flu has now spread to every area of the UK, with Dorchester and the City of London the last two places to report cases of people with "influenza like illness".
More than 1,600 cases of Aussie flu alone have been reported so far, but the actual total is feared to be far higher.
Seventeen patients were admitted to intensive care, as the latest influenza report confirms the virus is spreading faster.
New flu cases were being reported in previously untouched areas including the Brecon Beacons, Dartford and Telford over the weekend.
The worst-hit areas include Portsmouth, Plymouth, Northern Ireland, Dundee, Doncaster, Chelmsford, Northampton and Canterbury.
In Northern Ireland, churches have even banned handshakes to prevent the spread of the virus.
Health experts have called it one of the worst flu seasons in half a century and urged hospitals to be prepared for an epidemic thanks to the H3N2 strain, known as Aussie flu.
The flu kills an average of 8,000 people every year in the UK, but there are fears the toll could be much higher this season.
There are fears Britain could see an epidemic like the one currently being experienced in France.
The flu has killed more than 30 people there and put 11,500 others in hospital.
Symptoms of Aussie flu:
- Sore throat and cough
- Muscle ache
- Runny nose and sneezing
Symptoms of Aussie flu are similar to those caused by normal flu, but they are more severe.
People should recover from normal flu within a week so, although the cough and fatigue may last longer.
So if you are still really ill after seven days, it is a good indication of something more serious.
Aussie flu can lead to pneumonia and other potentially fatal complications.