COVID test
FILE PHOTO: A person takes a COVID-19 test in Times Square in 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency on Thursday reported a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases.

The 5,649 lab-confirmed cases in the past week represent an increase of more than 63% when compared to the previous week, when 3,455 new infections were recorded.

On the flu front, cases are slightly down, with 2,583 new lab-confirmed cases of influenza, less than the 2,721 cases reported the prior week.

By this time last year, 539 flu cases had been reported up to this point.

Officials had warned of the possibility of holiday celebrations, held in close quarters, contributing to a rise in positive tests.

“Holiday gatherings, especially indoors, can increase the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and flu …” said Cameron Kaiser, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer.

Kaiser and other officials repeated the warning to rely on masking, hand washing, home testing and vaccinations to prevent illness or determine if an infection has occurred.

The new COVID case numbers brought the region’s pandemic total to 947,909. Officials also recorded 15 additional deaths since Dec. 1, placing the local COVID-19 death toll at 5,584.

Fourteen of the fatalities were in their 70s and 80s; 12 had been vaccinated.

Five more local residents died of the flu, bringing the season’s local total to 13 deaths.