TRIBUTES have been paid after the “tragic loss” of a teenager who died of pneumonia after suffering from flu.

Bethany Walker was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness from her home in Applecross in Wester Ross but she died last Friday.

The 18-year-old was taking a gap year between leaving Plockton High School and studying midwifery in Aberdeen. She had been working at the Applecross Inn, which said on its Facebook page: “Farewell to dear Bethany another fantastic member of our team who we sadly lost last Friday after a short illness, you were the ‘belle of the ball’ at Hogmanay ... and indeed everywhere.

“Such a tragic loss of someone so perfect in every way, so polite, such beauty, humour, fun, music and studies. You were pure loved by every member of our team, so much devotion and dedication to all you did.”

Bethany’s former school said: “It was a privilege for all of us to have taught Bethany, to have known her in her years in the school and to have maintained contact with her after she left. It is tragic to lose someone so young and the thoughts of the whole school and the hostel are with Bethany’s family at this sad time.”

Scotland’s flu rate for the first week of 2018 was four times higher than the same week last year, with 107 Scots in every 100,000 of the population diagnosed with the virus in the week ending January 7.

There have been 48 flu-related deaths in England so far this winter.

The main strains circulating continue to be flu A(H3N2), known as Aussie flu, A(H1N1), known as swine flu, and Flu B.

More than 60 A&E departments in England and Wales have written to Theresa May warning that the “current level of safety compromise is at times intolerable”.