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No big flu wave expected this winter, expert says

No big flu wave is expected this year due to measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus, an expert said on Friday.

She warned, however, that people suffering from both flu and coronavirus could experience worse health problems.

According to assistant professor of paediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of Cyprus’ Medical School, Maria Koliou, this year was not expected to see a large wave of type A influenza.

This is due to the precautionary measures already put in place to curb the coronavirus, she said.

“Influenza A is also a respiratory disease,” Koliou told the Cyprus News Agency. She added that the mask also protects against the flu as well as social distancing and leaving windows open for good ventilation.

“They are all respiratory diseases, so prevention is similar,” said Koliou who also chairs the medical association’s special committee on tackling the coronavirus.

“Therefore, we do not expect to have a large wave of influenza A, unless something unpredictable happens like in 2018,” she said.

Although the restrictive measures imposed appear to have helped keep away the flu Covid cases continue to rise without abatement. Experts abroad explain this away with a phenomenon called ‘viral interference’, meaning Covid makes it difficult for other viruses to co-exist with it, they say.

Yet, Koliou warned that people who happen to fall ill both with flu and coronavirus are in for a tough time.

“We do not want both viruses to coexist in one patient, because they work together to cause problems for the patient,” she said. “If influenza A and coronavirus occur at the same time in one person, then things become more difficult for him or her.”

She added that this was another reason for people to get vaccinated for the flu, especially vulnerable groups as per the health ministry’s recommendations.

According to Koliou, no flu cases have been recorded so far this year in Cyprus. Countries around the world are showing a similar trend. Flu season in Cyprus, she said, starts either at the end of December or beginning of January. The only exception in the last nine years was in December 2018, when there was a serious outbreak which started in mid-December, she said.

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