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Coronavirus: Covid-19 or the flu? How to tell?

Web Report
Filed on September 14, 2020
flu, covid, coronavirus

(Reuters file)

Experts are anticipating that the combination could overwhelm health systems.

Amid Covid-19, as countries in the Northern Hemisphere buckle up for their winter months - a heavy flu season, health experts have mixed views on how well they will cope.

Experts are anticipating that the combination could overwhelm health systems and complicate the ability to make accurate diagnoses. That's because several countries in the Northern Hemisphere struggled to contain the outbreak during summer.

But contrary to that, much of the Southern Hemisphere witnessed almost no flu season in April, around the time autumn is set to become winter.

For example, South Africa government laboratories that would normally record more than 1,000 cases of flu between April and August, recorded only a single case. Meanwhile Australia reported 193 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza for July, compared with 70,071 in the same month last year.

Reasons for the diminished influenza spread in the Southern Hemisphere include social distancing and other measures implemented to combat Covid-19. But as there is no detailed blueprint for dealing with a combined flu season and pandemic,  health experts are skeptical on how the Northern Hemisphere will perform.

Hence according to experts, countries in the Northern Hemisphere, including the US where flu season normally begins around October, must rely on flu shots and adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures to keep influenza in check.

Moreover, the WHO has estimated that the crude mortality ratio for Covid-19 is between 3 per cent and 4 per cent, while mortality is usually well below 0.1 per cent for seasonal flu. In spite of this, "influenza-pneumonia" remains the leading causes of death in the US. During the 2018-2019 flu season, nearly 500,000 hospitalizations were reported and an estimated 34,157 people died, reported Weforum.org.


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