A number of countries in the southern hemisphere have seen a decline in cases of influenza, public health specialists confirmed.
In recent months, health systems across the southern half have been making all efforts to avoid a surge in influenza cases, which together with the coronavirus pandemic could have seriously overwhelmed hospitals.
Public health specialists in Australia, New Zealand and South America said most countries in the southern hemisphere of the globe have seen either a decrease in levels of flu or none at all. This has saved thousands of lives and has given a gleam of hope as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere.
A professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, Michael Baker said: “It’s amazing. There’s just nothing there at all. No influenza.”
The most recent figures have shown that New Zealand is one of the countries with the lowest coronavirus cases in the world. “Our excess winter mortality peak has largely disappeared,” Baker said.
Australia has also confirmed a record decrease in cases rates of flu and other respiratory diseases since coronavirus restrictions were imposed. This has enabled health services to channel more efforts on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
“Cases have fallen off a cliff since March,” said Prof Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization’s collaborating centre for reference and research on influenza, in Melbourne.
The number of people who have died from influenza in Australia this year is below 40 compared to more than 950 in 2019, “and there haven’t been any deaths for the past three to four months”, Barr added.
As countries across the globe impose restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, levels of infections from other respiratory diseases have also plummeted.