The latest updated weekly data from the Information System for Infection Surveillance in Catalonia (SIVIC) indicates that the influenza epidemic wave appears to have passed its peak this week, although the level of transmission remains high. The COVID-19 infection rate continues to decline, as do hospitalizations. Finally, the peak incidence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is clearly lower than last year, thus the trend of ending the current epidemic wave is maintained.
To avoid complications in case of influenza or coronavirus infection, Health calls for vaccination as the best preventive measure if the vaccines are not up to date, remembering that it is accessible throughout Catalonia and for the entire population by making an appointment at La Meva Greetings, citasalut.cat or at CAP . Current COVID-19 vaccines have been updated to protect against the XBB.1.5 variant of omicron, and have also been shown to work against BA.2.86 and its sublines, such as JN.1, which is currently most prevalent, and which also confer protection against influenza.
Investment in influenza vaccines and antibodies to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is approaching €29 million. More than 2.3 million doses have been administered so far. In addition, training was carried out, technical manuals were prepared for specialists, and more than 2 million personal text messages calling for vaccination and immunization were sent.
In Catalonia, all healthcare systems in the health system are working in coordination to ensure the best response to the public in the autumn-winter epidemic season. In this sense, Salut has, as of December 1, activated the Integrated Emergency Plan for Catalonia (PIUC) for the 2023-24 season, which invests €37.5 million to strengthen healthcare throughout the territory.
A slight decrease in the incidence of acute respiratory infections
During the last epidemiological week, from 8 to 14 January, in Catalonia, the incidence of all acute respiratory infections (ARI) registered a slight decrease compared to the previous week. The IRA rate is 874 affected per 100,000 population. 68,868 cases of acute respiratory infections were recorded.
Of all respiratory virus samples, influenza is the most common (39.9% of samples), followed by rhinovirus (11.9%), SARS-CoV-2 (9.2%), and VRS (5.9%). Among children, multiple test positivity also shows that influenza is the most prevalent virus (47.9%), declining compared to the previous week, followed by respiratory syncytial virus (5.8%), which continues to decline.
Regarding influenza, the pandemic wave appears to have peaked this week, as predicted by analysis of influenza peaks in pre-pandemic periods, which typically occurred in the second and third weeks of the year. The estimated peak incidence was 363 (307-419) cases per 100,000 population, which is higher than last year and similar to the years before the epidemic, when it reached 350-400 cases per 100,000 population. However, the level of transmission remains high and we must remember that last year there was a second peak of influenza, which was more severe than the first, six weeks after the first peak.
Added to the epidemiological situation this year is the co-spread of the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2). Its incidence continues to decline, at 80 (54-106) cases per 100,000 population, as does the associated income.
Consequently, the number of people admitted due to COVID-19 recorded a clear decline. There are currently 625 people admitted to traditional beds, 169 fewer than the previous week, and 26 people admitted to the ICU, 4 fewer than the previous week. There is also a decline in emergency consultations in hospitals and the percentage of income, among the data that can be expected for these dates.
Vaccination coverage for people exposed to COVID-19 is 60% for people over 80 years of age and 46% for people aged 70-79 years. Coverage for influenza in these age groups is higher than that for COVID-19, at 67% and 54%, respectively.
The respiratory syncytial virus wave continues to decline and the peak infection is clearly lower than last year, thus the trend of ending the current epidemic wave is maintained. The estimated incidence is 52 (31-73) cases per 100,000 population.
On the other hand, the above expected increase in pneumonia cases diagnosed in primary care also continues, but at the same time a decreasing trend has been recorded.
Urgent care declines, income stays high
Regarding emergency care activity, during the second week of 2024, from January 8 to 14, a total of 63,117 emergency cases were managed in hospitals, with a daily average of 9,017 cases. The income percentage was 12.2%.
Compared to the previous week, from January 1 to January 7, the number of emergency cases decreased by 12%, while the admission rate remained the same, with a decrease of only 3 tenths. Compared to the same week in 2023, hospital emergencies decreased by 6%, and admissions remained at 12%. The pressure of care on emergency services in hospitals is decreasing, although it remains at high levels. The complexity of the cases being dealt with is also stable.
In primary care emergency centers (CUAP), during the same week, 28,317 emergency cases were treated, with a daily average of 4,045 cases. This represents a decrease of 20% compared to the previous week and a decrease of 6% compared to the same week in 2023. Although activity remains at high levels, there is a downward trend, which is attributed to the improvement of the epidemiological context, as well as the full activity of the primary school teams. .
From primary care, care is taken to provide vaccination to everyone who needs or requests it, in order to prevent disease, and regular follow-up visits for chronic diseases typical of primary care consultations are still guaranteed.
As for 061 Salut Response, like the rest of the health system, as usual at this time of the year due to the increase in influenza and COVID-19 cases, it is also receiving more calls. 99.9% of incoming calls are answered. When it comes to emergencies and emergencies, they are taken care of by a team of doctors and nurses, who enter the patient's clinical history and carry out the appropriate assessment, activating the most appropriate resource in each case. On calls in which symptoms do not indicate emergency/urgency, the specialists at Health field Health and self-care advice for citizens.
Preventive measures to avoid new infections
- Wash your hands properly and often.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw it in the trash.
- Indoor ventilation.
- Wear a mask if you have symptoms and follow the recommendations regarding the use of masks in place, especially if you plan to contact people at risk and access health centers.
- Limit contacts or stay home if the person is sick and consult a health care professional if the person is elderly or has a chronic condition, or if the condition is progressing poorly.
- Anyone can schedule an appointment to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines if they have not been vaccinated.
This year's vaccination campaign is the ideal way for all at-risk groups to protect and defend themselves against seasonal fall and winter viruses. Vaccination can be accessed throughout Catalonia by making an appointment at La Meva Salut, citasalut.cat or at CAP.
The coverage of childhood immunization against RSV across the Region has exceeded 83.4%, a broad coverage that demonstrates the good reception of this protection measure by families and the efforts of professionals to integrate it.
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