The growing toll of the latest flu virus has prompted an awareness campaign urging South Australians to take more care about spreading the bug as the state continues to grapple with a horror flu season.
It is the latest step by health authorities nationwide to limit the spread of the disease, one of the most virulent strains in years.
So far this year there have been about 20,000 confirmed cases of the flu in SA compared to about 1500 at the same time last year.
Almost 50 people have died in the state from the flu or flu-related conditions.
The same killer bug has seen the NSW opposition call for hand sanitisers to be placed in public spaces to help stop the spread of the flu.
NSW Health data released on Friday reveals 66 confirmed influenza deaths in the six months to June 30.
SA’s health minister Stephen Wade said the new campaign was a timely reminder for everyone to look after themselves and each other this winter.
“In the face of what has been a horror flu season so far this year, this new campaign does a great job of illustrating just how easily the flu can spread,” Minister Wade said on Sunday.
“The flu virus is spread by human contact and can live up to 48 hours on hard, smooth surfaces such as door handles, playground equipment and desktops.
“We have distributed a record-breaking number of flu vaccine doses this year to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
“Now we’re asking all South Australians to remember they also have an important role to play in stopping the spread of flu.”
SA’s acting Chief Medical Officer Nicola Spurrier said it was important for children to stay away from school and for adults to stay home as much as possible if suffering from flu or flu-like symptoms.
“It’s important to also stay out of the infection radius by keeping at least one metre between yourself and someone who has flu-like symptoms,” Dr Spurrier said.
“The flu can be fatal – even to a fit and healthy person.
“That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself and those around you from becoming sick too.”
The new awareness campaign will run from July 7 to September 21 across TV and radio as well as social media platforms.