The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Winter Flu – 'Perfect Storm’ Could Cause Business Closures

Winter Flu – 'Perfect Storm’ Could Cause Business Closures
17 August 2022 | Updated 28 September 2022

Experts are predicting widespread staff absence rates this autumn due to a “perfect storm” of COVID-19 and early flu season.

This so-called “perfect storm” is thanks to an early and more severe than usual flu season. Transmission patterns in Australia, usually an indication of what’s to come in the UK, are at their worst for more than five years.


Early Flu Season Predicted in UK


Mirroring this, a flu season starting as early as September is predicted in the UK. Lowered immunity is also a concern given that the UK hasn’t had a “usual” flu season since 2020, due to lockdowns and COVID-19 preventative measures.

Dr D. L. Webber, a microbiologist, is urging businesses to start putting preventative steps into place now, in order to protect their workforces. Mask wearing, good hand hygiene, workplace cleaning practices, as well as air cleaning technology, could all play a part, according to Dr Webber:

“The main effect of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions on other airborne viruses is the reduction in influenza we’ve seen over the past two – three years. Heading into the back of this year, I would expect a significant rise in flu cases driven by international travel and lowered immunity, which may lead to potentially severe seasonal epidemics.  

“The main reason for this is because low transmission rates during recent flu seasons mean we have a lack of information on which flu variants to include in any vaccine programme. Furthermore, low-flu seasons might kill off less-common variants of influenza, making the choice of strains for future vaccines more difficult.  

“Pair this with rising coronavirus infections, and the usual seasonal rise in infection rates of common colds, I would expect a bigger than average rise in absenteeism.  

“I would urge businesses to prepare now, especially those that are already struggling with a shortage of staff – in a worst-case scenario, it could be the case that some businesses will have to temporarily close their doors.” 

Echoing the sentiments of Dr Webber, Susan Hopkins, the Chief Medical Adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), recently told a webinar hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine: "We are planning for an influenza wave. I don’t know if people are following Australia, but we are watching very, very carefully. 

“They have had their worst influenza season for more than five years. It started earlier and it rose very, very fast in all age groups, so we are expecting that we will see an early influenza wave. 

“While we normally don’t see influenza really kick off until the end of November to December, that might happen as early as late September-October – that’s what we’re planning for.” 

Picture: a photograph of a person putting on a face covering. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 17 August 2022


Related Articles

Allergy Awareness Week - Optimising Indoor Air Quality for Hay Fever Sufferers 

As allergy season gets underway, an indoor air quality monitoring company is introducing pollen level tracking to its app, to help employers learn how to make the...

 Read Full Article
Humidity Fights Flu

Humidification specialist, Condair, is launching a Humidity Fights Flu campaign to promote awareness that an indoor humidity level of 40-60%RH is very beneficial in...

 Read Full Article
Managing Hay Fever in the Workplace

With hay fever affecting one in four adults, how can workplace managers ensure sufferers are comfortable at work during the hay fever season? Hay fever season usually...

 Read Full Article
Airthings Brings ‘FM in Your Pocket’ App to Facilities Show

Airthings has launched a new data monitoring app for facilities managers at the Facilities Show in London. Airthings produce award-winning radon and indoor air...

 Read Full Article
Health Agency Urges Adults to Wear Face Masks When Ill

Guidance issued by the UK Health Security Agency states that adults suffering from respiratory illnesses should wear face masks if they have to leave home. Amidst high...

 Read Full Article
UK Government Publishes Facilities Management Strategy

The government has released a guide to establishing a coordinated and aspirational FM strategy. In the document, Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil...

 Read Full Article
How Can LightFi Work with BREEAM In-Use Criteria to Ensure the Most Sustainable Buildings?

Innovative Proptech companies such as LightFi are paving the way to net-zero by helping buildings become more energy efficient whilst promoting occupant health and...

 Read Full Article
First-Ever World Ventil8 Day Launches

An awareness campaign to promote the critical role of building ventilation has been launched by a coalition of scientists, academics, engineering bodies and environmental...

 Read Full Article
Gerald Eve and ebm‑papst Reset the Standard for Indoor Air Quality

A RESET Air-accredited monitoring solution has been installed at the newly acquired HQ of Gerald Eve in Fitzrovia, London. The project involved the monitoring of all...

 Read Full Article
British Cleaning Council Warns of Staff Shortage Crisis Ahead of Winter Flu and COVID Spike

The industry body that represents the cleaning and hygiene sector fears its workers will struggle to keep public spaces free of viruses if staff shortages...

 Read Full Article