The Southern Hemisphere skipped flu season and here’s why

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By Laylaa Edross

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 11 of VARSITY News.

 

In the United States of America, flu season approached with fear this year. Health experts in the USA cautioned their worry in fighting both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time, which might have put a dent in their healthcare system’s ability to fight both. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, the flu was virtually ‘undetected’. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu came and went with very few cases.

 

According to CNNHealth, “the Northern Hemisphere — particularly the US, where as many as 56 million people might have been infected with the flu last season — can learn from the Southern Hemisphere’s response to COVID-19, which might have prevented a massive flu outbreak”.  The CDC also commented on their belief that this phenomenon is due to efforts like social distancing, wearing a mask and closures of public spaces such as malls and schools.

 

In the Southern Hemisphere, flu season began in May, which coincided with national lockdown and the maintenance of COVID-19. With all the preventative measures put in place during this time, the influenza became easier to fight off as well. The spread of influenza was decreased a significant amount thanks to these COVID-19 measures put in place.

 

To measure the impact of COVID-19 on flu symptoms, the CDC evaluated flu activity recorded flu activity in three “robust sentinel sites” (CNNHealth) within the Southern Hemisphere- namely, Australia, Chile and South Africa. The period between June and August is the highest active period for flu activity in the hemisphere. While all three sites were very low in activity, Australia came out the lowest with 33 in 60,031 followed by Chile with 12 out of 21,178 and South Africa with 6 in 2,100.

 

Interestingly, flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms are so similar that many believe they have a flu and end up with COVID-19. Similar symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Lethargy
  • Aches and pains
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Sore throat

 

It is of vital importance to check your symptoms against COVID-19 symptoms and seek professional help in serious cases. Practice social distancing, wear a mask and have a healthy diet to maintain a good immune system and steer clear of both COVID-19 and influenza.

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