Australia’s flu season is off to a wild start. Is it a ‘precursor’ for Canada? – National

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Influenza activity in Canada is declining after an unusual late spring surge in the respiratory virus that has barely spread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around this time of year, flu cases in Canada are usually in steady decline after the fall and winter seasons, but a resurgence in early April, when numerous COVID-19 measures were lifted, created an anomaly in this trend.

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As COVID-19 begins to recede, more Canadians are getting the flu

There have been few cases of influenza since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, but as the pandemic wanes in certain parts of the world, other respiratory viruses are starting to resurface and Canadians should be prepared, especially given what is happening in Australia.

“Their number of (flu) cases is higher than the five-year average for this time of year. … So you’re seeing quite a lot of cases of flu-like illness and confirmed flu,” said Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network in Toronto.

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“It is a harbinger of what may lie ahead.”

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Coronavirus prevention has wrecked Australia’s flu season. Can Canada expect the same?

Australia’s flu season, which typically lasts from May to October, has long been studied by Canadian health experts in preparation for the flu season here, which typically kicks off somewhere between late October and early January.

In Australia, flu cases have been rising since early March and have exploded in recent weeks.

There were 26,193 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in Australia between May 9 and 22, more than triple the previous reporting period between May 25 and 8, the government said in its latest report. The country has registered 38,743 cases so far this year.

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AHS data shows recent spike in flu numbers in Alberta

AHS data shows recent spike in flu numbers in Alberta – May 3, 2022

In Queensland, the regional government has made flu shots free, with cases in the region doubling every week.

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“We would expect cases to peak in August during a normal flu season, but nationwide flu notifications have been doubling every week and have continued to rise sharply over the past week with 4,230 new cases,” Queensland Health Secretary Yvette D ‘Ath, in a May 31 press release.

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“The current data trend suggests that we may surpass the peaks of the 2017 and 2019 flu seasons, but also that we will reach those numbers much earlier this season.”

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Hardly any Canadians got the flu last year. What can we expect this fall?

As Canada’s flu cases began to rise in the spring, COVID-19 responses to protect the community from the novel virus began to ramp up across the country as disease numbers began to fall.

These measures helped protect against other respiratory infections, such as influenza, which has been all but absent in Canada since the pandemic began, experts said.

So far this reporting season, which Ottawa lists as beginning Aug. 29, Canada has recorded 12,693 influenza cases through May 28, its June 3 report said. On average, the country records 46,539 cases at this time of year.

When Global News reported the spread of influenza in early May, Canada had recorded 1,842 influenza cases to date.

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Flu cases hit record lows during pandemic: researchers

Ottawa recorded 69 influenza detections during the 2020-21 flu season. Typically, about 52,000 cases are detected each year.

Aside from the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, part of the reason Canadians saw an increase in influenza cases was an increase in testing, said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

A total of 16,031 influenza tests were conducted in Canada between May 22 and May 28, the government said in its June 3 report, up from the weekly average of 3,197 pre-pandemic tests.

Click here to play the video: 'Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance'

Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance

Doctors warn flu season could return with a vengeance – October 14, 2021

Australia is also conducting more influenza testing this season as COVID-19 circulates alongside other respiratory illnesses, Evans said.

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“By the start of spring, usually every other year, the number of influenza tests we do is actually much lower than before the influenza season started and in the early phase (of the season),” he told Global News.

“What happened this year was we were still doing a lot of COVID testing, but … a lot of it involved testing for influenza, so we did a lot more testing this spring, which allowed us to see those influenza cases as they came up. “

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COVID-19 will be with us for “the foreseeable future,” says PHAC, warning of future waves

With an expected resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, it’s important for Canadians to stay up to date with their immunizations and practice protective measures like masking and good hygiene to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Hota and Evans said.

“We’ll probably get through this summer without too much trouble with influenza and hopefully COVID, unless something really changes in terms of different variants, but both things are still active and we need to be aware of that.” be what might happen when we hit the cooler seasons,” Hota said.

“If you take steps to prevent COVID-19, they will likely be effective against influenza,” Evans said.

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“If people can use these methods, even if they’re not mandated, that’s going to really help us keep those influenza numbers down.”

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