Due to global rules of physical distancing introduced due to the coronavirus, flu rates are at record lows, early data show, signaling that the measures have an unprecedented impact on other infectious diseases.
In China, where the earliest quarantine measures began, new reports of infections including mumps, measles and sexually transmitted diseases show a significant decline, with the number of people infected with the flu experiencing the sharpest decline.
The number of infections, which have been reported by the Ministry of Health on a monthly basis since the beginning of quarantine, has dropped by 90 percent, from an average of about 290,000 cases a month to 23,000.
The Canadian Influenza Surveillance System also reported “extremely low levels” of influenza, as did other states that report data on a weekly basis, including Britain and Australia.
In its latest weekly report, the South Korean Infectious Diseases Portal reported an 83 percent decrease from last year.
“We have the lowest rate of other viral infections ever for this time of year,” said Ma Marais, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sydney and a doctor in the pediatric ward of Westmead Hospital.
“We usually have wards full of kids with breathing difficulties at this time of year, during the winter ... but this year the wards are mostly empty,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are three to five million seriously ill and up to 500,000 deaths from seasonal flu globally.