Low flu season in Victoria and across continent potential silver lining to COVID-19

Low flu season in Victoria and across continent potential silver lining to COVID-19
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The flu season in Greater Victoria and across the continent is down right now, it might be a result of all the COVID-19 percautions in place. But it's still too early to call

Flu cases in Greater Victoria and across the continent are down significantly right now.

A low flu season could be a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say pandemic precautions may be impacting influenza’s spread.

“The same sort of infection control precautions we use for COVID are equally as effective for influenza,” said Dr. Kathy Dabrus from the Victoria Division of Family Practice.

“We are seeing very low flu activity, almost no positive flu cases.”

Both Health Canada and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control note that influenza activity has remained unusually low for this time of year.

Steps like social distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing are likely big reasons why — along with the fact that COVID-19 appears to spread easier and cause more damage.

“We do see higher transmissibility [with COVID-19],” said Dabrus.

“Especially people are getting sicker. With influenza, we sometimes have people in the ICU and on ventilators, but there is a much larger group [COVID-19 patients] that needs ICU care and ventilation care, and have a higher mortality rate.”

The trend could continue, but in Victoria, the season started late last year and runs until March. So officials are hesitant to say we are in the clear.

“Every year is a little bit different,” said Dabrus.

“Last year was a late-year as well, it was closer to Christmas, we do know from information from other countries such as Australia that is coming out of their winter that they had relatively low flu activity.”

Heart Pharmacy in Cadboro bay received a new shipment of flu shots on Friday, but they are expected to not last long.

“[They will last] oh probably about six minutes,” said pharmacist Ian Lloyd.

This year high demand and an uncertain supply have resulted in waits across the region.

“Our waitlist at the moment is approximately 600 people. We are slowly making our way through it. This has been the highest demand for flu shots I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

Officials stress the only way to keep the trend going is to get a flu shot if you haven’t yet, because we still have three months to go.

READ MORE: Flu season in Canada ‘exceptionally low’ so far, public health says

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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