Death toll exceeds 200 in Australia's flu season

CANBERRA • The death toll from Australia's flu season has passed 200, with the authorities warning that the worst is yet to come.

According to data released separately by Australia's six states and two territories, at least 228 people have already been killed by the flu and more than 100,000 have been infected, compared with 58,824 last year.

"We're having one of our worst seasons so far... We expect the peak will come between July and September," Dr Richard Kidd, chair of the Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice, told the Australian Associated Press yesterday.

"Influenza is nothing like the common cold. It's serious and can be lethal."

More than 100 deaths and 49,000 cases have been reported in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, Australia's two biggest states, since January.

In South Australia, where the population is approximately one-quarter the size of Victoria's, there have been 18,500 confirmed cases of influenza and 44 deaths.

"The flu season is already making its impact felt around the country, with more patients presenting to NSW emergency departments so far in 2019 than in any other six-month period," Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW's director of communicable disease, said in a statement on Friday.

The outbreak is happening despite more than 11 million people having been vaccinated against the virus under a programme subsidised by the government.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 30, 2019, with the headline 'Death toll exceeds 200 in Australia's flu season'. Print Edition | Subscribe