Malta didn’t record a single hospitalised case of influenza between October and December last year, a rather astonishing result that could indicate COVID-19 measures have proven effective against the flu.
The Health Ministry confirmed with Lovin Malta that no discharge diagnosis influenza cases were recorded in the final quarter of 2020, compared with 19 flu cases recorded in the corresponding period of 2019.
The flu season typically reaches its peak between late December and January – there were 79 hospitalised flu cases in January 2020 and 148 in January 2019.
While official figures for January 2021 aren’t yet available, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci confirmed on 13th January that the number of flu cases has been very low this year, a result she attributed to COVID-19 measures.
“The number of flu cases was very low this year because of measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing but there were still patients with respiratory problems who had to be hospitalised due to exacerbations of their illness,” she said.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to prevent hospitals from being hit by a double surge of both COVID-19 and influenza cases, Malta’s government embarked on an unprecedented flu shot campaign.
Malta’s experience parallels that of several other countries worldwide. For example, the United States registered 1,316 flu cases in its clinical surveillance network between September 2020 and January 2021, down from 129,997 positive flu cases in the same time frame the previous year.
Tag someone who needs to know this