Australia

Seven more people dead from flu in WA

Seven people died from a flu-related illness in Western Australia last week, taking the state's toll to 48 for the year so far.

Flu reports to Western Australia's Health Department have decreased in the past week but remain much higher than peaks in previous seasons.

WA recorded seven flu-related deaths last week, taking the state's toll to 48 so far this year, according to figures released on Tuesday.

There have been 17,640 laboratory-confirmed infections so far this year, a huge spike from 1810 at this time last year.

There have been 1837 hospitalisations compared to 340 for the same period last year.

"Some of these numbers would reflect that more people than in previous years are getting tested," a Health Department spokeswoman said.

"Therefore, we need to look at the trends, not the numbers."

The spokeswoman said the notifications of laboratory-confirmed flu were higher than in previous years but the proportion of those who were hospitalised or died was below that seen in the past 10 years.

Data showed 11 per cent of confirmed cases had been hospitalised, compared to an average of 23 per cent in the previous 10 years.

Deaths were at 0.3 per cent compared to an average of 0.7 per cent for the same period.

"The influenza strains circulating this year are not different to previous years, we are just seeing higher infection rates," the spokeswoman said.

The flu season began this year about two months earlier than in previous years.

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