Flu expected to return in Turkey, in hand with COVID-19 surge
Fever, coughing, muscle pain and fatigue. Before the coronavirus emerged as a public threat, these were the symptoms of seasonal influenza to the untrained eye. The two infections were confused in the early days of the pandemic, but nowadays people are more convinced they have COVID-19 if they exhibit these symptoms. They are right, in a way, at least in Turkey, as flu cases have almost vanished into thin air since 2020. Did the seasonal infection really go away? The answer is a firm "no" from experts, who say that as the autumn sets in the flu may return more forcefully, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
Professor Alper Şener, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says they expected a rise in flu cases this year. “This is not something that suddenly appears and then disappears forever. Flu has not been circulating in the past year, but it will return,” he warned.
Strict individual measures, which became a public health policy, helped curb flu cases or at least decrease the more severe bouts of infection. In a country where protective masks against COVID-19 have been mandatory and people have avoided social contact, both on their own and with social distancing restrictions, the number of flu cases hit rock bottom. But as coronavirus cases climb, they may rise again, due to similar instigators of the pandemic surge. While the rise in COVID-19 cases is blamed on the new, stronger delta and delta plus variants, people ignoring calls for vaccination and ditching masks and social distancing, a flu influx could be triggered by closer interaction between people not wearing masks properly.
Şener also warns about a common misconception among the public. “You are not vaccinated against flu when you have your coronavirus vaccine. They are different vaccines. Even if you are inoculated against coronavirus, you have to have your flu shot separately,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday.
Though younger people usually overcome the flu with mild symptoms, it can sometimes have deadly consequences, especially for people aged 65 and above and those with chronic illnesses. Şener called on those people to get their flu shots before the start of winter. “It is essential to curb pneumonia rates with people infected with flu. Others may need flu vaccines to trigger the antibody responses of their bodies again, against flu,” he said.
Flu is a rapidly spreading disease, and like the coronavirus, is transmitted via infectious droplets that are dispersed into the air up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) from coughs or sneezes. The best way to prevent the flu, science and data show, is by getting vaccinated.