About this release
Public Health Scotland (PHS) continue to consider timely ways to provide the public with official statistics. Between 1 June and 5 October 2023, PHS has moved to dashboard only updates for respiratory infection and COVID-19 surveillance on a weekly basis and are reducing the frequency of the accompanying narrative report to monthly. This approach aligns to the pre-pandemic one for respiratory pathogens, which typically follow a seasonal pattern with most cases occurring between October and May. PHS will continue to monitor COVID-19 and other respiratory infection levels and reinstate the weekly narrative report before 5 October 2023 if necessary. A written report will accompany the dashboard update on 22 June, 20 July, 17 August and 14 September 2023.
Surveillance of respiratory disease pathogens is a key public health activity as infection is associated with appreciable levels of morbidity and mortality, especially during the winter months and particularly among those at risk of complications, including the elderly, children under two years of age, those with chronic health problems, and pregnant women.
Respiratory infection can be caused by a number of pathogens and there is no single surveillance system or data source that can describe the onset, severity and impact of SARS-CoV-2, influenza and other respiratory pathogens, or the success of any control measures. In Scotland, respiratory infection levels and their impact are monitored using various sources of data, including microbiological sampling and laboratory test results from community and hospital settings, NHS 24 calls, primary care consultations, and hospital (including intensive care) admissions. The intelligence generated from these different data sources provide a comprehensive picture of current respiratory illness in Scotland.
Seasonality patterns and variations
Respiratory illnesses are typically associated with a seasonal increase in the autumn and winter. Seasonality patterns for both influenza viruses and non-influenza respiratory pathogens have been established as a result of many years of surveillance data. Most influenza and non-influenza pathogens circulate in the autumn and winter in Scotland, although some are known to circulate in the spring and summer. Following changes in social mixing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the circulation of many of these pathogens have deviated from the typical seasonal pattern.
As yet, SARS-CoV-2 has not been shown to follow the same seasonal patterns as other respiratory pathogens. Increases in infections outside the winter season may be occurring for a variety of reasons, including the emergence of new variants or the temporary nature of individual-level immunity from vaccine.
The next release of this publication will be 15 June 2023.
Find out more
Versions of the Weekly national respiratory report publication released before 30 November 2022 may be found on the Public Health Scotland website
Versions of the COVID-19 weekly statistical report publication released before 30 November 2022 may be found on the Public Health Scotland website
Open data from this publication is available from the following weblinks:
- COVID-19 Open Data platform
- Respiratory Open Data platform
- Flu and COVID Vaccination Uptake Open Data platform
- 11 September 2023 SARS-CoV-2 BA.2.86 variant in Scotland - weekly update
- The Flu and COVID vaccination uptake in Scotland dashboard was updated on 6 July 2023 with the most recent information.
- The COVID-19 in Adult Care Homes in Scotland datafile was updated on 27 July 2023 to include more recent information.
- Ethnicity Data: The COVID-19 & Respiratory Surveillance in Scotland interactive dashboard was updated on 31 August 2023 to include more recent information relating to ethnicity of COVID-19 hospital admissions.
- 28 September 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on COVID-19 infection and vaccination in pregnancy in Scotland.
- 2 March 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on Highest Risk (shielding patients list)
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