'SA is open again': Why flu season could be intense amid relaxed restrictions and 'an immunity gap'

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Covid-19 symptoms, a young female Black exhausted character sitting in an armchair with an ice bag on a forehead and a thermometer in her mouth
Covid-19 symptoms, a young female Black exhausted character sitting in an armchair with an ice bag on a forehead and a thermometer in her mouth

Lockdown measures over the past two years, which were aimed at taming the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19, have also slowed the spread of other respiratory viruses, including influenza (flu), leading to a lower-than-usual number of cases during flu seasons.

Flu cases in SA usually start to increase sharply around mid-to-late April and tail off around August. The country generally experiences between 6 000 to 11 000 flu-related deaths and 40 000 hospitalisations each year.

But by July 2021, only 50 flu cases – and no deaths - were detected through the influenza monitoring system, Spotlight reported – a considerable difference compared to pre-pandemic flu seasons.

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