Flu season is the 'worst on record' - HSE
The flu season has been the "worst on record" for circulating at such a high level for so long, it has emerged.
It has also been confirmed that hundreds of operations planned for patients on waiting lists were cancelled in all hospitals over the past week in the wake of the adverse weather.
The number of patients on trolleys waiting for a bed breached 600 across the country for the fifth day in a row yesterday.
The HSE said hospitals have had to cancel non-urgent surgery requiring an overnight stay as they tried to cope with another surge in A&E attendances.
A spokeswoman said while flu rates had fallen they had been at above normal levels for 12 weeks - making it the "worst flu on record in terms of longevity".
Other pressures have included a rise in attendances by patients over 75 and the need to isolate beds for patients suffering from the winter vomiting virus and other bugs.
There are around 586 patients occupying beds although they no longer require hospital care because they are waiting for step down supports such as home care packages.