Flu activity was very high across the island in the last week and continues to increase, data from the health ministry showed on Saturday.

The rate of seasonal influenza was 50 per cent in the past seven days, health ministry advisor Dr Maria Koliou told the Cyprus News Agency.

According to the assistant professor of paediatrics – infectious diseases at the University of Cyprus medical school, cases of seasonal influenza are constantly increasing and a further upward trend is expected on the island in the coming period.

She explained that of the 100 cases suspected of being influenza and for which samples are sent for testing, “half are influenza”.

Flu this year in Cyprus came earlier than in the past, Koliou said, adding that it made its appearance in mid-December. It usually appears in the last week of the month or the first week of January.

For two years, when everything was closed due to the pandemic, not a single case had been recorded, the doctor said.

However, Dr Koliou said that this year when everything was opened the flu “came back with a vengeance”, as it did in all countries.

“It’s quite intense. We know that last week the flu activity was at 50 per cent. That means that of the 100 cases that are suspected to be influenza and for which we are sending samples, half of them are influenza,” she said.

Responding to a question, Dr Koliou said that the peak of the flu curve in Cyprus, which reaches 90 per cent, is recorded at the beginning of February and she expects that there will be a further increase in activity until then.

She added that the rates of influenza hospitalisations have increased compared to other diseases.

Earlier this week, state health services organisation said the pulmonology and related wards at public hospitals are under immense strain due to the influx of admissions citing the ongoing outbreak of respiratory illnesses, spearheaded by influenza A.

Referring to the possibility of a combination of Covid-19 and influenza viruses, Koliou said that “potentially a more severe disease could be caused”. The doctor urged all vulnerable groups to be vaccinated to prevent the coexistence of the two viruses as much as possible.