THE number of people in hospital with flu has halved since mid-December as rates of the infection across Scotland continue to fall.

Surveillance indicates that influenza incidence is moderate in most parts of Scotland, but low in the Lothian and Borders region.

READ MORE: Third child under 10 in Scotland dies with Strep A 

By the first week of January, there were 720 patients in hospital who had tested positive for influenza compared to a peak of 1,450 in the week running up to Christmas Day.

A steep resurgence in flu for the first time since the pandemic began has been blamed for piling pressure on hospitals which were already struggling with bed shortages.

HeraldScotland:

HeraldScotland: Incidence rates (top) and numbers of flu-positive patients in hospital (above) have both fallen steeply since mid-DecemberIncidence rates (top) and numbers of flu-positive patients in hospital (above) have both fallen steeply since mid-December (Image: PHS)

According to Public Health Scotland, the "extraordinary" flu rates in December were the higher than any of the 12 winters prior to 2022/23 and roughly double the peak seen during the 2017/18 winter, which had been considered a particularly bad flu season.

In the week ending December 25 2022, there were a total of 2,727 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in Scotland.

This fell to 1,363 in the first week of January and has declined to 452 in the week ending January 15.

READ MORE: Flu rates in Scotland hit 'extraordinary' high for first time in years 

The number of admissions for patients testing positive for respiratory synctial virus (RSV) has also fallen from a peak of 234 admissions in the week ending December 4 to 136 admissions in the first week of January. 

Overall rates of RSV in the community are now estimated to be low, and baseline among children under five. 

Rates of other respiratory viruses are also falling - including Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) which is now at low levels.

The number of patients in hospital with Covid has also fallen from a recent peak of 1,348 on January 2 to 1,036 on January 15.