The Department of Health in Puerto Rico has declared an influenza epidemic as the island has had an alarming spike in infections for 12 consecutive weeks.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Health Secretary Carlos Mellado stated that there have been 25,900 influenza cases since July, with 42 deaths and 903 hospitalizations on the island.
“We are facing a significant increase in influenza cases in Puerto Rico. This is certainly something that is not new; we know that seasonal influenza happens, and, as I have always said, influenza arrived in Puerto Rico in 1918 and is here to stay,” Mellado said. “What catches our attention this year is that we have had a consecutive increase for 12 weeks. If we compare that to previous years, we are above the threshold.”
Chief Epidemiology Officer Melissa Marzán Melissa, who was also at the presser, pointed out that this year has seen nearly six times more cases compared to the same period last year.
According to Mellado, of the 25,900 infections, 13,666 are in children and teens aged 0–19 years, 9,656 in adults aged 20–59, and 2,578 in those aged 60 and older.
Officials emphasized that the island has ample vaccine availability and urged the public to get vaccinated because, while hospitals aren't presently overcrowded, the flu isn't the sole concern as COVID-19 cases are still resurfacing.
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