web analytics

Major infectious diseases – England and Scotland update, week 13

TL&DR: A bit of sunshine, longer days and warmer weather and good news – all Covid indicators are down, and so we are over this strange wave’s crest. Flu, RSV and Scarlet fever cases are also down. Spring has finally arrived!


The number of reported cases in England has been declining over the last couple of weeks. Scotland is not yet there completely, but the numbers are declining in many age classes; the decline is masked by the increase in 15-19 age group.

A similar decline is now also visible in Pillar 1 cases, positivity and admissions. I suspect both positivity and hospitalisation numbers might still be revised upwards next week, but we are clearly at the wave crest.

So, it looks like this “strange” wave is now peaking. Compared to the other Omicron outbreaks, the initial growth rate was clearly lower this time, and the numbers at the peak were lower as well.

It will be interesting to consider what happens next, but any speculation are beyond the scope of this post.

Influenza, RSV, Scarlet Fever, …

All the other infectious diseases I monitor here are declining, following their pre-pandemic seasonal pattern. RSV is still high compared to other years, but not unusual.

Finally, I did not have time to update the Rhinovirus graph this week, so just simply copying from the UKHSA report.

The reported common cold cases until recently were high compared to a pre-pandemic 2018-19 season (and pre-lockdown 2019-20), but now seem to go down. The “usual” summer Rhinovirus season is still before us, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out this year.

Update on Covid cases in week 12

The UKHSA releases their respiratory infections report on Thursday afternoon, and I always try to analyse these and put the graphs here as soon as possible. The report covers the data up to the end of last week, so they are not completely up to date.

Daily data for England are also released once a week on Thursday afternoon and are more up-to-date. Scotland still releases data daily.

The latest update from yesterday shows the cases peaking in England and continuing to grow in Scotland. The drop in England is, of course, welcome, but I am somewhat sceptical about its lasting impact.

However, even in Scotland, there seems to be some evidence of slowing down – the case numbers in the 0-14, 20-24 and 75-84 age groups decline and are not massively growing in other groups.

We need to remember that these are reported cases, and Covid testing is being scaled down even further. More on it in another post.

Major infectious diseases – England (and Scotland) update, week 12

New week, new data, but the old story. TL&DR: Covid is still a problem in England (and elsewhere), although the increase in cases and hospitalisation might be slowing down.

Other diseases I routinely monitor here follow their seasonal, pre-pandemic patterns, although Rhinoviruses remain high.


I have not looked at Rhinoviruses for a while. The UKHSA does not provide readily-available electronic data so I need to resort to scanning and digitizing.

Rhinoviruses are the primary cause of the common cold. They prefer temperatures 33-35C, typically found in human noses. Their spread is seasonal, but unlike flu or RSV they tend to peak twice a year, in Spring and in Autumn.

Initially suppressed in March/April 2020, they came back later in 2020 and were largely unaffected by subsequent lockdowns. In the 2022/23 season, the Autumn peak was followed by a drop in positivity but a large increase in the number of positive samples.

The positivity stays high, so there is indeed a lot of sniffing and sneezing around. It will be interesting to see how the Spring wave will develop, but we will likely continue with a lot of rhinoviruses around.


The hospitalisation numbers are slightly down, but there is probably no reason to celebrate yet. A high number of cases and positivity are sadly bound to be translated into a jump in hospital admission next week.

As mentioned in my earlier posts, this wave is different to the previous ones, and so it is difficult to make any predictions. I am worried about the rapid growth in India, as what affects the largest country in the world is bound to make its way here.

Similar increases have been seen elsewhere, for example, in Denmark, as excellent reporting by @BarclayBenedict shows:

Flu, RSV and Scarlet fever

I am lumping these three together, as they now follow a similar, pre-pandemic, seasonal pattern.

Pre-pandemic, both influenza and RSV peaked in late Autumn and Winter. Flu is a bit more complicated due to different Influenza A and B behaviours, but it was always strongly seasonal.

Both flu and RSV epidemics are now generally over, although flu seems to be lingering at low levels.

Scarlet fever is also seasonal, but the before the pandemic, the peaks were later and more spread out. This season was, of course, different due to the unprecedented outbreak levels in November and December.

But, when the top values are ignored, the current levels of Scarlet fever are within the pre-pandemic range – which encompassed such different epidemics as 2017-18 (peaking at over 2000 cases per week) and 2018-19 (peaking at 500 cases per week).

I expect the Scarlet fever numbers to linger near the current level for a few more weeks before slowly disappearing over Summer.