The number of confirmed flu cases in New York continued to sharply decline for a second consecutive week, state officials announced Thursday.

There was a 53 percent decrease in laboratory-confirmed flu cases in New York State last week and a 41 percent decrease in hospitalizations, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“While these numbers are encouraging, I continue to urge anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones,” said state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

The flu season is not over and health officials urged residents to help prevent the virus from spreading by staying home when sick and practicing good hygiene. Unlike some viruses, influenza is easily killed with soap and hot water.

Officials advise people to:

  • Wash hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Carry a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Make sure to cover the mouth and nose with a sleeve or a tissue.

As of March 3, officials said more than 107,000 confirmed cases of the flu had been reported to the New York State Department of Health since the flu season began in October.

So far this season, five children have died from the flu. During last year’s flu season, eight children were reported to have died from the flu.

More than 19,000 people have been hospitalized, making this year’s flu season worse than last year’s when 12,912 were hospitalized, according to state officials.

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