CASES of flu in Scotland have risen for the third week in a row, according to official statistics.
Health Protection Scotland’s latest report also shows numbers are almost five times higher than during the same period last year.
The figures reveal 114 people per 100,000 of the population had a flu-like illness in the week ending January 14.
That is up from 107 per 100,000 in the previous week while about 46 Scots in every 100,000 suffered from the virus during the last week of December.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “During my visits to thank staff for their hard work this winter, health and social care workers up and down the country highlighted flu-like illnesses as putting strain on our systems.
“These figures are still almost five times higher than the same period last year and we’re not out of the woods yet, but it is encouraging to see the figures haven’t risen as sharply as in previous weeks.
“The Scottish Government is continuing to monitor the situation and work with health boards to ensure they are coping with the challenges of flu this winter.”
Health experts believe the virus might be reaching its peak but they claim it is too early to say this is the case in Scotland.
Clinicians have also confirmed the current predominant strain is covered by this year’s flu vaccine.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith added: “Flu-like illnesses are continuing to have an impact on Scotland’s health system.
“While it is encouraging to see that the number of cases didn’t increase as dramatically as in previous weeks, the rate is still almost five times higher than the same period last year.
“In comparison to previous years, this suggests the virus might be reaching its peak however it is still too early to be sure of that.
“The statistics also show that the vaccine is a good match against the current most common strains so I would continue to encourage anyone in an eligible group to get vaccinated – it is the best defence against flu.”