Fall in flu figures shows wider efficacy of COVID-19 measures: CDC

Taipei,  Proper personal hygiene practices, such as wearing a mask and frequent hand washing and temperature taking, have not only helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 but also reduced seasonal influenza and enterovirus infections in Taiwan, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Taiwan has recorded only one severe case of influenza this flu season, which started in October 2020, the lowest ever, with zero deaths. The severe case was reported in the final week of December, CDC statistics showed.

In the last flu season from October 2019 to September 2020, a total of 968 severe flu cases were reported, with 161 deaths, according to the statistics.

The lower incidence of severe flu can be partly attributed to people’s heightened awareness of the importance of disease prevention after COVID-19 first broke out about one year ago, the CDC noted.

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented rush for government-funded seasonal flu vaccines last year.

Following the launch of the 2020 government-funded influenza vaccination program in early October 2020, supplies of 6 million free doses of vaccine almost ran out in about two months, prompting the government to purchase additional vaccine doses, according to the CDC.

The preventive measures introduced by the Central Epidemic Command Center in response to escalating COVID-19 concerns worldwide during the fall and winter are also believed to have helped contain the spread of not only the coronavirus but also flu infections.

For instance, the CECC announced in November last year that starting Dec. 1, people must wear masks in the following eight types of public venues: healthcare facilities, public transportation, accommodation and shopping venues, learning places, sports and exhibition venues, entertainment venues, religious and worship places, and offices and business venues.

Physical measures such as mask wearing and frequent hand washing have certainly helped prevent the transmission of COVID-19, but also the spread of flu and other viral infections, so there has been no indication of a flu epidemic this flu season, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

Similarly, with good hygiene practices promoted at schools, kindergartens, hospitals and public venues, enterovirus infections did not occur in April and May as usual.

Only five cases of enterovirus infections were recorded in 2020 and all of those were at the beginning of the year, also a record low, according to CDC data.

Looking back over the past three years, at least 22 serious enterovirus cases were reported in 2017, 36 in 2018, and 67 in 2019, CDC statistics showed.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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