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1.1 Cold Weather alert
The latest Level 3 Cold Weather Alert was issued on 4 February 2015 for all areas of England, except London which remains on a Level 2. 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 2014 and 11 to 13 December 2014.
1.2 Syndromic surveillance
Syndromic Surveillance report that there were small increases in GP (in hours) consultations for upper respiratory tract infection and conjunctivitis during week 5. These increases were mainly in children.
In week 5 2015 (ending 1 February), indicators of influenza activity decreased or were at similar levels to 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 10% lower overall compared to the 5 year seasonal average (from season 2009 and 2010 to season 2013 and 2014). Laboratory reports are currently at similar levels compared to 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 41% 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
In week 5 2015 in England, significant excess mortality was seen in 65+ year olds and under 5 year olds. Significant excess mortality has been seen in England in 65+ year olds in weeks 50 2014 to 5 2015, in 15 to 64 year olds in weeks 52 to 1, and in under 5 year olds in weeks 1 to 2 and 4 to 5. This coincides with circulating influenza and the recent cold snaps.