The number of flu-related deaths this season has already surpassed the 95 deaths that occurred over the 2016/2017 season.
There were 366 people hospitalised with flu last week, with the highest rates seen in those aged 65 and older. The latest flu bulletin from the HPSC shows 3,281 people have been hospitalised with flu so far this season, with 150 admitted to critical care.
Over the previous flu season, 1,425 cases were hospitalised, with 51 admitted to critical care.
There were eight flu outbreaks last week, bringing the season total to 174. Over the entire 2016/2017 season, there were 111.
The HPSC said flu hospitalisations continue to be reported at high levels but community flu activity “decreased significantly” last week. The GP flu-like illness consultation rate declined to 33.5 per 100,000 population during the week ending Friday, February 25, compared to 65.1 per 100,000 the previous week.
While GP consultation rates have decreased in all groups, flu will continue to circulate in the community over the coming weeks, the HPSC has warned.
Meanwhile, an average of 551 people were on trolleys each day in February, the latest INMO figures reveal.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher described overcrowding in emergency departments as “atrocious”, and saying there is little hope of improvement for next month.
The INMO trolley figures for the 20 days they reported on in February show 11,014 people were left lying on trolleys.
Mr Kelleher said: “One in five days saw the figure exceed 600; a figure which used to cause alarm bells to ring in Hawkins House, but clearly it no longer has the same impact after years of FG failure in health.
“People are sick and tired of excuses from Minister Harris and Fine Gael on the poor state of the health service.”