Thirty-one Victorians have died from flu in 2019, as the number of confirmed cases soars to nine times more than the same time last year.
More than 18,600 people have been diagnosed with the flu since the season started late last year, months earlier than usual, prompting Victoria’s health minister to urge people to get vaccinated and stay home if sick.
“Sadly, we’ve had 31 confirmed flu deaths so far this year, the vast majority of those elderly members of the community living in nursing homes,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters on Monday.
“But sadly, of those deaths, three have been in children.”
Ms Mikakos confirmed the three children, aged between three and 11, died on May 21. At that point there had been 10,683 confirmed flu cases and 26 deaths.
In the weeks since, with winter taking hold, more people are being diagnosed.
“The latest data is showing us that we have 18,644 confirmed flu cases this year, that’s nine times more than the same time last year,” Ms Mikakos said.
“So we have seen a very significant spike in flu cases in recent weeks.”
Ms Mikakos urged people to stay home if sick, and avoid taking sick children into childcare or school.
“This is how the flu is spreading across the community,” she warned.
“It’s really important that people take heed of those simple precautions.”