Tuesday, November 17th 2020, 9:30 am - Canada's flu season dramatically reduces due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Health officials were not sure what was going to happen to the flu season in the wake of COVID-19. International results are in, and flu seasons are dramatically reduced compared to previous averages.
Canada is not an exception. Last year by this time, Canada already had 711 cases of influenza. This year, there are only 17 confirmed cases.
These reports aren't a result of a lack of testing. According to the average from the last six years, 4,500 flu tests were administered in the first week of November. This year there were 10,000 tests.
Health officials feared that the fall would bring an influx of COVID-19 and influenza cases, overwhelming medical resources. COVID-19 is spiking, but the flu is flat.
Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of infectious disease at Queen’s University, credits the public health precautions taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing.
Dr. Evans also says the reduction of international travel has stifled the spread of the flu.
There were indications from the Southern Hemisphere that flu season was going to be less impactful in Canada. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Southern Hemisphere's flu season is from April – September and the Northern Hemisphere's seasons could run from October - May.
The Southern Hemisphere didn't really get a flu season.
New Zealand's positive cases were down 99.8 per cent, Australia's confirmed cases were down 93 per cent.
The death rate is following the infection rate. In 2019, Australia confirmed 800 flu-related deaths. In 2020, that number is down to 36.
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases shared that they usually see 1,000 confirmed cases based on 4,000 random tests. This year, that number is down to one.
Though Canada's flu season is in its early days, the numbers are indicating that we'll also see drastically reduced flu cases.
Each year, the #flu leads to an estimated 12,200 hospital stays and 3,500 deaths. Get your flu shot as soon as it’s available. It can take up to two weeks to build immunity after you get the flu shot. https://t.co/0qbPPAAPdQ pic.twitter.com/kzI1PDQnT8— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) November 4, 2019
Canada is also increasing its messaging regarding the importance of flu vaccines.
Alberta shared that 1.14 million people have been vaccinated so far, barely a month after the province offered the shot. In 2019, Alberta vaccinated a total of 1.4 million people throughout the entire flu season.
As long as Canadians are getting the flu shot and following COVID-19 protocols, it looks we won't have much of a flu season.
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