Covid campaigns like more hand hygiene and less social contact have helped eradicate the flu in the winter months. Photo: Depositphotos
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Ireland escaped winter without reporting a flu case as public health measures around Covid-19 helped wipe it out.
According to a new report from Eurosurveillance also recorded extremely low levels of flu across Europe.
Covid-19 cleared flu for the first time since surveillance began about 69 years ago across Europe and around the world.
The report noted that » the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on influenza circulation in the WHO European Region and worldwide by 2020 and 2021 « .
» This influenza season has been since the inception of the Global Influenza Surveillance Network and response systems exceptional in 1952, « it says.
» Although countries test large numbers of samples for influenza, most likely in parallel with coronavirus, « influenza was sporadic in the WHO European Region Irus evidence of all species, subtypes and lineages reported.
It was said that the flu-like illnesses and acute respiratory infections detected were lower than those observed even during the regular summer months.
Countries have large Efforts are being made to minimize the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on influenza surveillance.
« In the past, vaccination efforts and communication campaigns on individual behavior to minimize influenza have had limited success to reduce virus circulation.
« However, strict measures such as school closings, home ordering, use of masks and general population reduction at the global, regional and local levels have not been taken during an influenza season since 1918, » the report reads > Due to the lower reproductive number of influenza – assessment of its ability to spread – Compared to the coronavirus, such measures « probably explain the much stronger impact on the influenza circulation, » according to the Eurosurveillance report.
In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people die each year from the effects of influenza. However, around 1,000 people can be killed in a heavy season.
The Health Protection Surveillance Center’s latest weekly surveillance report as of March 14th says that out of 1,051 GP samples and 2,504 others who have had the flu or respiratory since October Syncytial Virus (RSV) were tested, no positive cases were found.
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From October 1st to March 14th, 1.2 million flu vaccinations were given by general practitioners and pharmacists.
It recently emerged that 120,000 doses of the flu vaccine for children had to be discarded after they were too low Intake were out of date.
It was the first time children were offered a free nose flu vaccine. It was originally limited to ages two to twelve and was later expanded to include teens 17 and under to provide broader coverage. Scientists are now trying to find the strains to include in the flu vaccine next winter.
Some fear that the flu could recur next winter as people have not been exposed to the virus for as long and are more vulnerable.
However, it is inevitable that next winter anti-virus Covid measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and wearing masks will be taken to curb the flu threat.
The flu vaccine is also expected to see heavy use next winter and HSE will come under increasing pressure to to ensure that enough supplies are available.
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