Flu Hits Record High in US & AUS! Learn the 2 Ways to Lower Infection Risk
Planning to travel this December? Don’t forget to remain alerted and hygienic during this travel season amidst the threat of both COVID and influenza pandemics. The numbers of flu cases and flu-related hospitalization have reached a record high in Australia and the US, many experts believe this season’s influenza virus to be more infectious and can cause more severe illnesses. Even in Hong Kong, there has been a flu infection case earlier this week which was then transferred to ICU for treatment, meaning the risk of a flu pandemic in Hong Kong has also risen. Travel or not, it’s high time we took the 2 measures to lower infection risk.
A More Contagious Flu? Easier to Cause Severe Illness?
Usually, a flu season takes places between May and October from the southern hemisphere, followed by a widespread in the northern hemisphere and reaching its peak in December.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this season’s influenza A virus is more contagious and can cause severer illnesses. The risk of flu complications is highest among children due to recent COVID preventive measures such as wearing masks and distance-learning that diminish children’s natural immunity against flu viruses.
Record-High Flu Cases in Australia and the US
Australia’s Department of Health stated that this year’s flu season had already started in April, 2 months earlier than usual. As of Nov 11, it’s reported to have at least 220,000 flu illnesses (higher than the average of the past 5 years) and nearly 300 flu-related deaths, much higher than the 20,000 infection and dozens of death cases in 2020.
CDC also reported an earlier flu outbreak in the US this October and a record-high flu-related hospitalization rate in 10 years. It is estimated to have at least 6 million illnesses, 50,000 hospitalizations and nearly 3,000 deaths from influenza this year already, while seeing a surge in the sickest patients and admissions to intensive care units. Most of the country is still having a high rate of spread, especially the Southeast. With thanksgiving and Christmas seasons underway, it is expected to see a continuous rise in flu cases for a considerable period.
Meanwhile, both nations have suggested that the majority of flu cases this year were due to influenza A, which is known to cause more severe epidemics.
2 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Infection
Despite a limited local flu influence, increasing number of travellers and entry relaxation measures are likely to cause a widespread of flu in Hong Kong anytime soon. Hongkongers should take early preventive measures to lower the risk of infections or complications.
Getting a Seasonal Flu Vaccine
Seasonal flu viruses are changing every year, that’s why an annual vaccination is so crucial. Usually, sufficient antibodies are developed 2 weeks to 4 weeks after vaccination to effectively prevent an infection and lower the risk of severe illnesses or complications. High risk groups like children, ages 50+ and chronically ill patients should especially get vaccinated to enhance immunity against flu.
Getting Flu Rapid Test In Time
Generally, taking antiviral medicines prescribed by doctors in the first 48 hours of symptoms is the most effective way to lower the risk of severe illnesses or complications. Considering the very similar symptoms of flu and COVID, using a flu rapid test can provide you with quick and accurate results for early and timely treatment. If you are planning to travel later this month, you should carry a few flu rapid tests and get tested before your flight back to Hong Kong. Due to flu’s incubation period, getting rested regularly is highly recommended even when you’re back to Hong Kong to protect your family from infection.