Public health measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 are having a welcome side effect in Alberta: they’ve made it nearly impossible for seasonal influenza to circulate.
Alberta hasn’t detected a single lab-confirmed case of influenza in the entire province this season, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at her Thursday news conference.
“This is a testament to the hard work and sacrifices of so many,” she said. “Public health measures have truly stopped seasonal influenza in its tracks.”
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This time last year, Alberta’s labs had confirmed 470 cases of seasonal flu. This year they’ve found zero, despite a 300% increase in testing.
“It underscores the difference between these two viruses, and how dangerous COVID-19 truly is,” Hinshaw said.
In just 11 months, COVID-19 has taken more lives than 10 years of influenza infections in Alberta. In less than a year, five times more people have been admitted to hospital for COVID-19 than last year’s flu season.
“COVID-19 is unlike any virus we have faced in a hundred years,” Hinshaw said, urging Albertans to keep following public health measures.