Labor's spokesman for the Illawarra Ryan Park has called for a new approach for flu, after a more than four-fold increase in reported cases in the region this year.
Some 4795 flu cases were confirmed in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven between January 1 and October 16, 2017 – compared to just 1253 cases for the whole of 2016.
‘’Having four times as many people sick this year as last year puts an incredible strain on local health and hospital services,’’ Mr Park said.
‘’We have more people than ever off sick, which also hurts our economy.
‘’This exponential increase highlights that the government’s illness prevention strategies are failing the people of the Illawarra and South Coast.
‘’I believe that it is time for the Liberal Government to reform its approach to the flu in NSW.’’
Mr Park, and Labor’s state health spokesperson Walt Secord, have called on the government to investigate adopting US-style infection-control education campaigns for the 2018 flu season.
The three-step approach includes large-scale free vaccinations for a wider range of people; self-exclusion from work or school; and stepped-up hygiene practices.
‘’We are set to break the 100,000 confirmed case mark (across NSW) and that is unprecedented,’’ Mr Secord said.
‘’There are important lessons for all levels of government and it is time to work together to ensure that we do not see the same number of cases or deaths next year.’’
The NSW influenza surveillance report for the week ending October 8 reported that there were 583 confirmed flu outbreaks in institutions so far in 2017. There were 290 deaths in residents linked to these outbreaks, but all of whom had significant co-morbidities.