Several patients are in Bedford Hospital with the flu with one in critical care

“Flu and Covid-19 spread more easily as we spend more time indoors during the colder months”
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Several flu patients were in both hospitals at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust last week, figures show.

Across England, more beds were occupied by flu patients in the first week of January than the week before – although figures remain below the same point last year.

New figures from NHS England show an average of five beds were occupied each day by patients with influenza at both Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable Hospital – in the week to Sunday, January 7.

Bedford HospitalBedford Hospital
Bedford Hospital

This was a small increase on the week to December 31, when an average of four patients were in hospital.

On January 7 itself, one patient at the trust was in critical care.

Most cases of flu can be treated at home with rest, hydration and over-the-counter medication. The NHS advises limiting contact with others to avoid spreading the virus.

Across the country, an average of 1,548 patients were in hospital each day last week with flu in the week to January 7 – including 107 in critical care beds.

Of these, 119 were in the East of England. This was up from 95 the week before.

Separate figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show new hospital admissions decreased slightly over the same period, even as the number of beds occupied went up.

Dr Alexander Allen, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "It’s promising that we see a decline in both flu hospital admissions and Covid-19, but this may be partly down to how people mix and seek health services differently over the Christmas period.

"Some indicators show that flu cases in the community are on the rise, so we are not out of flu season just yet."

He added: "Flu and Covid-19 spread more easily as we spend more time indoors during the colder months. If you are showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, try to reduce contact with others, especially those who are vulnerable."

The UKHSA is urging those eligible to get a free flu vaccine.

This winter remains less severe for flu hospitalisations than the year before.

At the same point last year, England was in the middle of its worst flu season for a decade – with more than 5,000 people in hospital beds with the illness.