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Global Times

COVID-19 restrictions preventing Australian flu deaths

Global Times

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/6/14 9:44:29

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said on Saturday that measures introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing and travel bans have led to a dramatic drop in flu cases.

As of the end of May there had been a little more than 20,500 confirmed cases of influenza in Australia in 2020 compared to 74,176 cases in the first five months of 2019.

Chris Moy, president of the South Australian branch of the AMA, said that the number of flu deaths prevented since the outbreak of the pandemic was likely "quite significant."

"It may have, up to this point, saved more people than it's actually killed, and certainly the response to COVID-19 has actually saved a lot of people," he said.

"The only proviso to that is that it is possible that we may have actually delayed an (influenza) outbreak."

"But I think (the number) will still be less, because we have a far more highly immunized population this year than we have had in previous years."

The federal government has acquired a record 16.5 million flu vaccinations in an attempt to ease pressure on the health system amid the pandemic.

As of Saturday afternoon there had been 7,302 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 102 deaths.

Comparatively more than 800 Australians died from influenza in 2019, making it the second deadliest flu season on record.

Moy said that the extent of the decline was a phenomenon "that we've never seen before."

"The mechanism of spread of influenza is essentially the same as that of COVID-19, and that is droplet spread," he said.

"By applying the physical distancing, the restrictions ... (have) closed down the transmission of influenza at the same time."

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