The journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer has claimed that Public Health England (PHE) is now combining Covid-19 and influenza (or “flu”) statistics, in order to “make the Covid numbers look worse than they really are”.
This does not combine the influenza and Covid-19 statistics themselves, or change the numbers about either disease in any way.
The new report 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 figure for Covid-19 specifically.
The false claim that Covid-19 and flu statistics are being misleadingly combined seems to come from a misunderstanding of the previous week’s Covid-19 report, which said, “This will be the last COVID-19 surveillance report, as of 8 October 2020, the information in this report will be published in a combined Weekly flu and COVID-19 Surveillance Report on GOV.UK.”
PHE has published regular flu reports for a number of years, weekly during the flu season, and fortnightly during the warmer months.
This article was updated to show that Ms Hartley-Brewer has corrected the record.
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 false
because Covid-19 and influenza statistics are not being combined as statistics, just published in the same report.
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