About this release

This is a weekly release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) on epidemiological information on seasonal respiratory infection activity in Scotland including COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care services have functioned differently now compared to previous winter respiratory seasons, so the consultation rates are not directly comparable to historical data.

Main points

Overall assessment for week 09 (week ending 5 March 2023):

  • The proportion of NHS24 calls that were for respiratory symptoms in week 09 remained at Baseline activity level
  • Influenza remained at Baseline activity level (0.9 per 100,000 population).
  • There were 55 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases: 15 type A (not subtyped), three A(H1N1), three A(H3) and 34 type B. This compares to 59 laboratory-confirmed cases reported during week 08
  • Adenovirus decreased from Low to Baseline activity level. Rhinovirus remained at Low activity level. HMPV decreased from Moderate to Low activity level
  • In the Community Acute Respiratory Infection (CARI) sentinel surveillance programme, rhinovirus was the most commonly detected pathogen in week 09, with a swab positivity of 21.6%. Influenza B is also showing a slight increase in the recent weeks, compared to influenza A, both were at 1.4% in week 09. SARS-CoV-2 and HMPV increased in week 09 to 9.1% and 9.4% respectively
  • The overall number of emergency hospital admissions associated with RSV, influenza and SARS-CoV-2 has decreased from the high plateau seen in weeks 51 and 52. The largest proportion of admissions in week 08 2023 (83%) was for SARS-CoV-2, with the individual number of admissions for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza both showing a very small increase, whilst RSV numbers decreased
  • In Scotland, in the week ending 21 February 2023, the estimated number of people testing positive for COVID-19 was 117,100 (95% credible interval: 98,200 to 137,800), equating to 2.22% of the population, or around 1 in 45 people (Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK - Office for National Statistics)
  • There were on average 819 patients in hospital with COVID-19, a 14.5% increase from the previous week ending 26 February 2023 (715)
  • During the current Winter 2022 vaccination programme a total of 1,988,504 people have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and 1,933,706 adults have been vaccinated for influenza


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

Many respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are typically associated with a seasonal increase in the autumn and winter. These seasonal patterns have been established based on many years of surveillance data. However, in some cases, circulation of these pathogens have deviated from their usual seasonal trends due to changes in social mixing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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 and time-varying fluctuations in population immunity associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 16 March 2023.

Find out more

Previous Publications

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

Open data from this publication is available from the following weblinks:

Further data

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.flu@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 08 March 2023
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