— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on January 8, Monday.
Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is now on the rise in various countries across the globe, including the U.S. and the U.K. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in a week, the number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 23 to 36.
Meanwhile, the proportion of samples testing positive for influenza at clinical laboratories went from 14% to 22.4% and the percentage of people seeking outpatient care for influenza-like illness increased from 3.5 to 5 percent, which is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. Usually, the flu season in the US starts from October and lasts until May in the next year, with February being the peak time. However, with record-breaking winter frigid hitting most areas in the country, the peak flu period came 12 weeks earlier than normal.
In the meantime, across England, 4.5 million people are said to have complained of flu-like symptoms. Nearly seven in 100,000 sufferers ended up in hospital in the past week, three times as many as in the previous seven days, an epidemic situation not seen since 2009.
Now, every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials. And this is unprecedented in the UK. Last week, 24 people died from flu in the UK. According to Public Health England.
And how much can a huge pandemic cost the economy? According to a report by Reuters, the expense of major epidemics is evident every time a health agency totes up the cost of treating infected people - the outlays for drugs, doctors' visits, and hospitalizations. But that spending is only the most obvious economic impact of an outbreak, because healthcare, flight carriers and tourism industries could all been hit hard. And predictions for an extremely severe pandemic could cause $700 billion in economic losses and a 5.5 % drop in GDP for the year.
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.