A deadly flu outbreak that has already claimed five lives is set to spread in Irish hospitals.

One expert has warned that overcrowding in emergency rooms will see the influenza virus ‘spread like wildfire.’

The Irish Independent reports that Dr Fergal Hickey, President of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, blamed the overcrowded emergency departments for the exacerbated seasonal spread of flu.

Dr Hickey has predicted that the worsening flu outbreak could spread quickly and lead to more deaths amid growing concerns about the spread of influenza and its potential to trigger more fatalities.

The paper reports that the number of reported deaths has risen sharply in the past week after a spike in people contracting the virus.

Already five influenza-associated deaths, including an infant under four, have been recorded.

Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital imposed visitor restrictions over the weekend as it fought a flu outbreak.
Overcrowding at hospitals is seen as the biggest factor behind the rise in cases of flu.

The report says that in the first week of February, the rate of people presenting to their doctor with influenza-like illnesses in Ireland increased to 32.4 per 100,000 population, from a rate of 20.5 per 100,000 the week before.