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 04 (week ending 29 January 2023):

  • The proportion of NHS24 calls that were for respiratory symptoms in week 04 remained at Baseline activity level
  • Influenza decreased to Low activity level (2.9 per 100,000 population). There were 158 influenza cases: 115 type A (not subtyped), 23 A(H3), nine A(H1N1)pdm09 and 11 type B, this compares to 287 laboratory-confirmed cases reported during week 03 
  • Adenovirus, HMPV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and rhinovirus remained at Low activity level. Seasonal coronavirus (non-SARS-CoV-2) 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 04, with a swab positivity of 19.2%, and influenza (A and B) swab positivity reduced from 8.6% percent in week 03 to 2.4% in week 04 
  • The overall number of emergency hospital admissions associated with RSV, influenza and COVID-19 has decreased since a plateau during weeks’ 51 and 52. The largest proportion of admissions in week 03 2023 (56%) was for COVID-19
  • In Scotland, in the week ending 17 January 2023, the estimated number of people testing positive for COVID-19 was 92,400 (95% credible interval: 77,200 to 109,100), equating to 1.76% of the population, or around 1 in 55 people (Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK - Office for National Statistics
  • There were on average 734 patients in hospital with COVID-19, a 17.6% decrease from the previous week ending 22 January 2023 (891) 
  • As part of the Winter 2022 vaccination programme 1,983,634 people have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and 1,930,779 adults have been vaccinated for influenza. 90.1% were vaccinated for influenza and COVID-19 at the same vaccination appointment 

Background

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 / Seasonal 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 or the temporary nature of individual-level immunity from vaccine or prior infection.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 9 February 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

View open data for COVID-19 on the Scottish Health and Social Care Open data platform (external website) for:

  • COVID-19 statistical data in Scotland (daily and weekly data available)
  • COVID-19 Vaccination in Scotland (data up to 14 September 2022)
  • Hospital onset COVID-19 cases in Scotland
  • Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 in Scotland
  • COVID-19 Infections in Pregnancy in Scotland

You can also view the open data for the Flu and COVID Winter 2022 Vaccination Programme Uptake

Further data

  • Ethnicity Data: The COVID-19 statistical report interactive dashboard was updated on 30 November 2022 to include more recent information relating to ethnicity of COVID-19 positives
  • 28 September 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on COVID-19 infection and vaccination in pregnancy in Scotland.
  • 02 March 2022 COVID-19 statistical report publication contains information on Highest Risk (shielding patients list)

General enquiries

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

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

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: 02 February 2023
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