Reported Flu Infections Down Dramatically Across Canada

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A drastic reduction in flu cases in Canada could be a positive side effect of COVID-19 prevention.

The latest influenza stats were presented at Thursday night's Windsor Regional Hospital Board of Directors Meeting. According to Health Canada, 56 flu cases have been reported so far this flu season, down from the more than 21,000 cases usually reported at this point in previous years.

Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad says Australia's flu season comes earlier in the year, so it was the first country to report a huge drop in cases.

He credits the drop to physical distancing, PPE and long stretches of isolation being used to combat the pandemic.

"When it came to be our turn for our influenza season, we were still testing just as much as we did in previous years, but the number of confirmed positive cases for influenza was remarkably lower," he added.

Saad tells AM800 News both viruses spread via droplets, so with masks and distancing stopping the spread of influenza, it shows how effective COVID-19 is at infecting its host.

"Clearly this coronavirus is much more infectious than influenza is and it's obviously deadlier than influenza is," he says. "When people at the beginning of the pandemic said 'this is just another flu' it shows it's clearly not another flu."

Dr. Saad hopes the data quiets claims influenza is simply being ignored due to the pandemic.

"If we weren't testing and we weren't finding it, that's a completely different story, people could be dying of influenza but you're just not checking for it," he says. "But the same number of tests were done this year as they were in previous years and you're just not seeing as much influenza."

Saad says the connection between COVID-19 measures and the latest flu data could help shape a response to a flu outbreak in the future.