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1.1 Cold Weather alert
The latest Level 3 Cold Weather Alert was issued on 21 January 2015 for North East England, North West England, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands and the East of England. A Level 2 has been issued for South East England, London and South West England. A series of cold weather alerts have been in place across the country since 12 January 2015.
Prior level 2 and 3 cold weather alert periods this season have occurred from 25 to 31 December and 11 to 13 December.
1.2 Syndromic surveillance
Syndromic Surveillance report that consultations for respiratory indicators have decreased during week 3 across all systems.
In week 3 2015 (ending 18 January), across indicators influenza activity was at lower levels than those reported the previous week in England. The Department of Health alert issued on the prescription of antiviral medicines by GPs is still active.
The number of laboratory reports of norovirus in the current season is 5% lower overall compared to the 5 year seasonal average (from season 2009 and 2010 to season 2013 and 2014). Laboratory reports are currently at lower levels than the same weeks in previous years. Reports of outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting in hospitals continue to be reported at similar levels to previous years
Rotavirus activity is low; laboratory reports are 30% lower than the 10 season average (from season 2003 to 2004 to season 2012 to 2013). The decreased rotavirus activity is likely to be associated with the introduction of the oral vaccine in July 2013.
1.6 All-cause mortality
From week 40 2014 up to week 3 2014 in England, significant excess mortality was seen in 65+ year olds in England in weeks 50 to 3 2015 which coincides with circulating influenza. No significant excess was seen in other age groups. Significant excess mortality in winter months typically results from factors such as cold snaps and increased circulation of respiratory viruses, in particular influenza.