The number of flu patients in intensive care in England has risen for the first time in nearly three months.
An average of 43 intensive care beds per day were occupied by flu patients last week, up from 33 the previous week, according to NHS data.
The figure had been on a broad downwards trend since the start of the year, following a surge in cases in the run-up to Christmas.
The average peaked at 349 in the first week in January.
Just 10 intensive care beds in England were occupied by flu patients at the equivalent point last year.
The figure stood at 111 at this stage in 2022.
A rise in flu patients in intensive care wards, even from low levels, is likely to add to pressures already faced by hospitals in dealing with other viruses such as Covid-19 and norovirus, besides adding to demand for beds.
It is too soon to know if the increase is the start of a trend, but it was described as “worrying” by Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director for England.
“Thousands of patients are still in hospital every day with winter viruses, including almost 8,000 patients with Covid and double the number of norovirus cases compared to this time last year,” he added.
This is down 20% from 689 in the previous week, but is more than two times the figure at this point last year, when the average stood at 240.
The number of patients in hospital in England who have tested positive for Covid-19 averaged 8,224 in the week to March 29, down slightly week-on-week from 8,442, but up from start of both March and February.