DUBLIN, Ireland: Health officials have announced that the first case of winter flu has arrived in Ireland, after a patient with flu was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Dr Ian Counihan, respiratory consultant and clinical director for the hospital's Department of Medicine, told The Independent that laboratory testing has confirmed that the patient is suffering from flu.
Due to last winter's lockdown, along with additional severe Covid-19 restrictions, there were no reported hospitalizations for flu in Ireland.
"I just got notified that the lab confirmed the case two days ago. That is a cause of concern. We have been seeing illness, particularly in children," said Counihan, as reported by Morning Ireland.
Counihan urged the public to become vaccinated against the flu.
Earlier, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warned of high levels of flu this winter, reaching its peak around Christmas and New Year.
In past years, up to 500 people died annually from flu in Ireland.
Those people most vulnerable to flu are aged 65 and over.
Beginning this week, a flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray will become available to children.
Officials note that children are more prone to spread the virus to other children, especially those in day-care centers and schools, and to older and vulnerable people.