CORNAVIRUS restrictions might be the reason for the sudden spike in cases of Strep A.

According to a recent NOIDs (notification on infectious diseases) report, cases of Scarlett fever have skyrocketed in 2022 showing over 20,000 – this is a stark contrast to 2021 which had just over 2,000, and 2020 which had around 8,500 cases.

Public Health Wales and the UK Health Security Agency – who published the report - both say the Covid pandemic may have something to do with the distortion in numbers this year.

However, Dr Graham Brown, consultant in communicable diseases at PHW, admitted the number of cases in Wales this year is a surprise.

“It is expected to have a higher number of cases of Scarlet fever every few years,” said Dr Brown. “However cases of Scarlet fever have been increasing in Wales earlier than normal this year.

“Scarlet fever declined during the period of the Coronavirus restrictions, as children were away from environments such as schools and nurseries, as well as parties and other group events where these infections are often passed on. It is likely that this has had an effect on how infections circulate in the population.

“As people have started to return to subsequent mixing we are seeing these infections return.”

The UK Health Security Agency say this season, Scarlet fever has been particularly acute compared to other ‘high seasons’.

Between September 12, 2022, and December 4 there have been 6,601 notifications of Scarlet fever, compared to 2,538 at the same point during the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018.

A spokesperson for the UKHSA agreed with Dr Brown that the pandemic might be playing a part in the rise in numbers.

“Seasons with high cases can occur every three to four years but social distancing measures implemented during Covid may have interrupted this cycle and explain the current increase being observed,” said the spokesperson.

The NOIDs report comes as pharmacists told the Penarth Times they were struggling to keep up with demand for antibiotics – particularly penicillin which is used to fight the virus.

One pharmacist said she was struggling to deliver - especially liquid form antibiotics - and was having to switch to tablet based therapy to try cope with demand.