Non-Covid respiratory illnesses on rise in UK, medical experts say | Infectious diseases


Non-Covid respiratory illnesses and other conditions that were suppressed over the winter by lockdown are slowly “marching upwards” again, albeit at a level below what doctors expect for this time of year.

The increase in conditions such as bronchitis and the common cold was attributed by an expert at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to the onset of people mixing again amid the lifting of lockdown measures.

“Things are returning to normal levels after they were very much suppressed by the social isolation and measures,” said Prof Simon de Lusignan, director of the RCGP’s Research and Surveillance Centre.

“For future pandemics and other things such as a big, out-of-control flu outbreak, it has shown the power of interventions, lockdowns and measures like that.”

There were some curiosities, he added, such as a somewhat unusual increase in conditions like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause bronchiolitis in babies and toddlers and which has typically emerged before Christmas.

The UK has been experiencing it out of season, as have countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where hospitals are said to be experiencing what was described as a payoff of “immunity debt” created by Covid-19 lockdowns, and Public Health England has reportedly been modelling a possibly sharp rise in cases of RSV.

While he was not unduly concerned about the uptick in non-Covid-19 illnesses – which were actually recorded in the latest RCGP surveillance report for England to have recently dipped amid an upward trend – de Lusignan said that there would be regional variations.

“Inevitably, you will get regional change and it will often be about population destiny, and in some areas, for example, where there are multi-generational households.”

In Yorkshire, York hospital and GP surgeries have reported being under pressure as a result of the rise in respiratory illnesses.

Children in playground on Hampstead Heath, London
The rise in cases of non-Covid respiratory illnesses in adults and children is being attributed to people mixing after the easing of lockdown measures. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

A GP there presented a report in which she suggested there had been a rise in adults and children suffering from respiratory problems due to lower levels of immunity to common viruses.

“We’re seeing a lot of both children and adults with typical illnesses that we would see in winter and we’re seeing probably winter levels of activity,” said Dr Sally Tyrer, a GP and chair of the North Yorkshire and York local medical committee.

“I suppose that’s because people haven’t been socialising for a long time and their immunity to various other viruses has dropped,” the Yorkshire Post reported Tyrer as having said.

Doctors revealed last month that A&E units were treating a sudden surge in young children suffering from infections usually only seen in winter after the rules on social contact were relaxed.

Anxious parents are bringing in preschool-age children who have a high temperature and difficulty breathing, increasing demand on emergency departments that are already “overwhelmed”.

The trends in non-Covid illnesses come at a time when Covid-19 cases are rising, although the number of deaths from the disease remain low.

The rate of new cases of coronavirus in most areas of England is now back at levels last seen during the winter.

A total of 154,262 new confirmed cases were recorded in England in the seven days to 4 July, according to Public Health England – the equivalent of 274.1 cases per 100,000 people.



Source link