Cold and flu sickness days overtake Covid-19 as a cause for absence from work, figures show 

Cold and flu sickness days overtake Covid-19 as a cause for absence from work – swelling threefold in just THREE months, figures show

  • Latest data shows more sick days are being lost to cold and flu than Covid-19  
  • 1,043,965 working days were lost to cold and flu in the last week of November 
  • The figure increased threefold from 269,224 in the first week of September
  • By contrast, Covid sick days fell from 1,313,838 to 863,222 over the same period

More sick days in the UK are being lost to colds, flu and coughs than Covid-19, the latest data shows.

The rise of ‘super colds’ forcing people off work has been linked by scientists to decreased immunity after lockdowns.

A surge in respiratory infections has hit the workforce this winter, while hospital admissions for influenza have also soared, The Telegraph reports.

Research by firm Goodshape found that 1,043,965 working days were lost across the country to cold and flu illnesses in the week leading to November 28, while Covid caused 863,222 sick days in the same week. Employers lost £118 million in sick leave through the period.

More sick days in the UK are being lost to colds, flu and coughs than Covid-19, the latest data shows

The number of cold sick days have also increased by more than threefold since September, which saw 269,224 days lost in the week to September 5.

Covid absences, on the other hand, have fallen from the 1,313,838 recorded in the same week in September. 

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘We are probably seeing more [cough, cold and flu] infections now because immunity to infection is probably very low following lockdowns.’

‘On average, many infections are probably more severe than normal because of waning protection against severe disease.

‘But the three-year total is probably not any higher, it’s just that they are concentrated in the recent past.’

Alun Baker, chief executive of Goodshape, said: ‘Worker illness is an ongoing pressure for employers, stretched by seasonal demand while navigating a challenging economy.

‘This year’s pressures are particularly potent as we fend off the added impact of the “super cold”, “twindemic” and strike action. It’s a balancing act to ensure there is capacity for sick staff to rest and recuperate.’

The sickness figures come at a time of unique pressure for the NHS, as it battles a Strep A outbreak in schools across the country.

The UK government on Thursday admitted there were serious shortages of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections in children, despite more than a week of denials.

‘Serious shortage protocols’ had been issued for three types of oral solutions used in paediatrics – Phenoxymethylpenicillin, which is also known as penicillin V.

At least 19 children died in the United Kingdom from severe cases of Group A Streptococcus

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