Flu and Covid-19 statistics are being published in one report, but not added together

13 October 2020
What was claimed

Covid-19 and influenza reports are being combined.

Our verdict

This is correct, but it will have no effect on the numbers, which will still be shown separately in the document.

Many Facebook users have shared a screenshot of a Public Health England (PHE) weekly Covid-19 surveillance report, which says that from 8 October, “the information in this report will be published in a combined Weekly flu and COVID-19 Surveillance Report on GOV.UK.”

This does not mean that the statistics themselves are being combined. It means that PHE has begun to publish its Covid-19 and influenza statistics in the same document. This does not change the numbers about either disease in any way.

As we have written in another fact check, the journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer made this mistake in a tweet on 11 October. She has since deleted the tweet and corrected the record.

We’ve also seen posts and messages making similar claims on WhatsApp and on YouTube.

The new PHE document does contain combined data on the number of “acute respiratory infection incidents” (two or more lab confirmed cases or a suspected outbreak) reported by PHE Health Protection Teams, just as previous reports did before. These are presented as a total figure, before being broken down to show the figures for Covid-19 specifically.

PHE has published regular flu reports for a number of years, weekly during the flu season, and fortnightly during the warmer months.

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This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because publishing flu and Covid-19 statistics in the same document does not change the statistics themselves.

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