Covid health measures slash winter flu rates in France
No serious cases of influenza have been reported since October, say health experts
Strict health protocols in France to combat coronavirus have had the knock-on effect of slashing the spread of more traditional winter illnesses, such as influenza.
Wearing a mask, handwashing, and the closure of bars and restaurants have slowed down the circulation of viruses transmitted by respiratory droplets and aerosols so much that Santé Publique France said in its latest health update that there had been: "No active circulation of influenza viruses identified by dedicated surveillance networks.
"Only 19 influenza viruses [have been] detected (17 in hospitals and two by the Sentinels, a national health monitoring network uniting doctors and researchers) in different regions, at least two of which in people returning from a trip abroad."
According to health experts, "no serious case of influenza has been reported by the services participating in this surveillance," in France since October 5, 2020.
Cases of gastroenteritis and norovirus are also well down compared to past years, though there has been a slight rise since the second lockdown in France, health experts say.
Across Europe flu levels remain low, the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control noted, citing coronavirus health measures as the likely reason.
But experts have warned that seasonal flu epidemics sometimes occur later in winter - and it is quite common for peaks to arrive in February or March.