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HomeAustraliaAussies hit with numerous flus, Covid-19 as expert notes disturbing trend

Aussies hit with numerous flus, Covid-19 as expert notes disturbing trend


Tens of thousands of Australians are falling ill every day as flu and Covid-19 rates skyrocket – as a medical expert reveals a disturbing pattern.

The Ministry of Health and Elderly Care revealed that more than 17,000 cases of flu or flu-like illnesses were recorded between May 15 and May 28.

The Australian flu season usually lasts from April to October, but like last year, it started earlier in March, with 57,816 cases already reported this year.

About 5,500 people get Covid-19 every day, according to health authorities.

The situation is exacerbated by two strains of influenza A, an evolution of swine flu, H1N1, and an evolution of avian flu, H3N2, running rampant.

UNSW infectious disease epidemiology associate professor David Muscatello revealed how a disturbing new trend was playing out in Australia.

He said flu and Covid-19 cases have risen in recent months, which is different from last year when flu cases increased but Covid cases fell.

More than 57,000 Australians fell ill with flu-like illnesses at the start of an early flu season, with more than 17,000 in the second half of May ( Stock Image )

‘What’s interesting is that it (flu numbers) seem to be increasing earlier in the year than they used to be,’ Prof Muscatello told Daily Mail Australia.

“We used to see the increase in the flu often starting around July and then extending into September.

“But in 2019 it really started to increase much earlier in the year, around April or even early in some parts of Australia.”

Influenza is a group of illnesses that cause flu-like symptoms where the virus is split into two categories, Influenza A and Influenza B.

“This year we are seeing both influenza type A and B viruses in the community,” said Prof. Muscatello.

“The subtype of influenza A that is now circulating is mainly the influenza A(H1N1) virus, which is related to the swine flu virus that caused a relatively mild pandemic in 2009.”

An evolved version of swine flu has spread throughout the country in the years since, except during the Covid-19 restrictions when cases fell.

About 75 percent of reported cases have been attributed to Influenza A, including subtypes H1N1 – swine flu – and H3N2 – avian flu.

Professor Muscatello describes flu A as a ‘concern’ because of its ability to mix with other flu strains in other animals and create brand new strains, although it is rare.

“Both influenza A and B viruses are constantly evolving, so we need to get vaccinated against flu every year, but influenza A evolves faster than influenza B,” he said.

Two strains of flu are spreading across the country, the influenza A(H1N1) virus, which is related to swine flu, and influenza A(H3N2) related to bird flu, is also (stock image)

Two strains of flu are spreading across the country, the influenza A(H1N1) virus, which is related to swine flu, and influenza A(H3N2) related to bird flu, is also (stock image)

‘Influenza B only occurs in humans, but influenza A viruses also occur in birds and animals.’

Influenza A is also called the ‘kindy flu’, not because of its severity, but because it mainly affects children up to the age of 14.

The Department of Health and Aged Care report also revealed that the sudden rise in flu-like illnesses could have an ‘impact on society’ as more people take time off from work or require hospital treatment.

“While ILI activity in the community remains within historic ranges, the proportion of FluTracking participants reporting ILI, and the proportion reporting taking time off from their regular work while unwell, has continued to increase over the past two weeks” , the report reads.

‘The impact on society will probably increase due to the 2023 flu season.’

Of the thousands of cases, 518 were hospitalizations, 37 of which were sent directly to the ICU.

There are also 57 deaths from flu with a median age of 76 years.

1685946314 238 Aussies hit with numerous flus Covid 19 as expert notes disturbing

In addition to the tens of thousands of Australians affected by the flu, around 5,500 Aussies are also infected with Covid-19 each day (stock image)

While numerous types of ILI are spreading across the country, how increasing cases of Covid-19 will interact with the diseases is uncertain.

Covid-19 has given researchers headaches as it disrupted their ability to collect flu season information as fewer people call in sick.

“It is very difficult right now because of COVID. It has really disrupted the patterns of viruses, although they seem to be returning to normal,” Professor Muscatello said.

Much is unknown about how Covid-19 and flu react in a body, but there are volatile patterns.

“Last year, Covid went down when the flu broke out,” Professor Muscatello said.

“Whether they are viruses that compete with each other is still something that – as far as I know – we are not entirely sure.

“We’re still learning as time goes on.”

It is also unclear whether Covid-19 will become a seasonal illness like the flu, as it appears to be on the rise again in colder winter temperatures, Professor Muscatello said.

“I think the most important thing is that the combination of vaccination and natural infection in the community reduces the risk of a serious COVID outbreak over time,” he said.

“That’s not to say there are still a number of people who have died in hospital from COVID. It’s still a big concern, even if it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been.’

Professor Muscatello urged Australians to similarly fend for themselves from ILIs and Covid-19.

“(Australians should) sanitize, wear face masks, avoid crowds, wash your hands,” he said.

‘Moreover, there is also a flu vaccine. Which I would recommend everyone get, and you can get it alongside your COVID vaccine.”

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