By: GIANNA LUGLIANI
Of all the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic, at least one good thing has come from it – a heavily lessened flu season worldwide. This year, due to the enhanced precautionary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, the flu has seen a record low in cases. With sanitary measures being heavily enforced all around, masks being required when in public, and social distancing protocols, it has been extremely difficult for flu virus particles to be spread between individuals, too.
“The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has infected at least 67 million people and killed 1.5 million worldwide.” With all the efforts to prevent this highly dangerous outbreak, other respiratory viruses have also seen a decline – such as influenza and the common cold. All these new social restrictions and health measures are being seen as an intriguing experiment to scientists, as it is providing new information about how these other diseases respond to these precautions. “After the pandemic started, positive tests for the flu virus plummeted by 98% in the United States, for example, whereas the number of samples submitted for testing dropped by only 61%.” This was also a direct result of the stay at home order mandated throughout the country, preventing these more common illnesses from being spread outside of households.
The introduction of face masks as standard attire to be worn in public in the United States has also been beneficial for stopping other diseases from spreading. This has already been seen in Asian countries long before the Coronavirus pandemic. Strongly influenced by the SARS outbreak in the years 2002 and 2003, people there have been wearing facemasks regularly if they feel ill out of respect for the people around them. This is why many countries in Asia were able to better control the virus- the people there were already used to wearing masks and didn’t try to protest against them, as some people in the United States have done. Their flu seasons are also statistically less because of their compliance with wearing masks there. The CDC started enforcing mask-wearing in America in March 2020 as a defense mechanism against Covid-19. The reasoning behind this was, “many people who test positive are asymptomatic and the virus seems to be the most contagious in the days before and right after a person develops symptoms. So when an infected person wears a mask, they are protecting others by blocking their contagions from escaping.”” Masks help stop the spread even if you don’t know you have Covid yet, and because of this have resulted in the decrease in flu particles spreading as well.