A wave of colds, flu and bugs with ‘Covid-like symptoms’ hits Dorset and puts public services and businesses under pressure.
People are being urged to stay home if they feel sick and to work remotely if they can rather than spreading germs.
Official data shows an increase in influenza and more people across the UK coming into contact with the NHS with flu-like symptoms, while the number of hospital admissions and the spread of Covid-19 in care homes is also rising.
Rachel Partridge, deputy director of public health for Dorset Council and the BCP, said: “Viruses always spread more easily in the colder months, when many of us are spending more time indoors and socializing with friends and family in the run-up to the festive season.
“This year, we are seeing the effects of the flu more than in the past two years, when it was largely put on hold by Covid restrictions, as well as Covid-19 and general coughs and colds.
“The majority of winter viruses currently circulating lead to mild illness for most people, with many of us recovering quickly through self-care at home. We have all become accustomed to respiratory hygiene measures over the past two years, and they are useful for preventing the spread of all viruses, not just Covid-19.
“If you feel unwell, stay home and avoid contact with others until you feel better, wash your hands regularly and catch your cough and sneeze into a tissue and put it in the trash.”
She urged those who qualify to stay up to date with the Covid Booster and flu shots.
One of Poole GP surgery operations, Rosemary Medical Center, has been texting patients this week saying, “We have several staff illnesses including two doctors, a nurse and two receptionists. We apologize for any appointments that need to be cancelled. Please only call if it is urgent.”
As previously reported, restaurants have seen a wave of cancellations due to illness.
Matt Petridge of SoBo: Fish in Southbourne said, “Every time the phone rings, I dread it.”
Poole Lighthouse is suffering from staff illness. The chief executive, Elspeth McBain, said it succeeded because her team was “willing to be flexible professionally” and fill in for people who weren’t feeling well.
“We didn’t get to the point where we couldn’t open it but it came seriously close,” she said.
Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, said: “We hear about a lot of illnesses within companies, particularly in relation to colds and flu, as well as bugs which are similar to Covid symptoms although they are not necessarily Covid itself.
“My feelings are that if people are still able to work, they should do so remotely from home where possible rather than coming to the office or workplace.
“Attending to work when the sick person is well has the potential to spread the disease and have a negative impact on the business with more employees falling ill and less able to work at full capacity.
“Obviously, absences when employees are completely out of work will have an impact on productivity to some extent, but responsible employers will provide all necessary support to aid their recovery and help them return to work.”
- Patients were urged to speak to pharmacists about the best way to treat minor ailments and to visit 111 online or call 111 for urgent medical advice.
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