Redcliffe Hospital has celebrated a record flu season, with no local patients admitted with a laboratory confirmed diagnosis of influenza since March.
In 2019, 526 people with the flu were admitted to the Metro North Region’s five hospitals, including Redcliffe, Caboolture and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospitals.
Redcliffe Infectious Diseases and Respiratory Physician Dr Christopher Chew says the last case of laboratory confirmed flu at Redcliffe was recorded in March.
Dr Chew says the rate of flu testing has not diminished, despite the onset of COVID-19.
“We did 4000 tests last year and by the start of October we had done about 3000 and we’re finding this is the case across other jurisdictions,” Dr Chew says.
With influenza spread mainly through direct contact with infected respiratory droplets, Dr Chew says it is easily contracted by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face.
“Droplets can go up to 1.5m, which is why we say stand 1.5m away from everyone else,” he says.
Dr Chew says the declaration of a public health emergency at the end of January, the introduction of physical distancing and restrictions on the number of people in public places combined to limit the number of cases.
Other contributing factors included distance learning and working from home.
“The main driver is children, so parents not going to work and kids not mixing, (as well as) a huge emphasis on things like hand hygiene and cough etiquette removed the whole contaminated hands influence,” he says.
The introduction of COVID-safe plans and increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces also helped.
Dr Chew warns people cannot afford to become complacent, with delayed flu seasons reasonably common.
“(Continuing to focus on) hygiene and public health measures is important.
“(Also) if there’s not much flu this year, your reduced exposure might impact on immunity next year.
“The other implication is that you rely on strains which circulate one year to predict what you have for next year’s vaccines.”
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