Seasonal viruses stymied as anti-Covid measures slash infections in France

·2-min read

Protective measures such as hand washing, mask wearing and keeping distance to stem the spread of the coronavirus have helped reduce the number of seasonal illnesses in France such as stomach bugs, child bronchitis and flu.

According to statistics released by Santé Publique France (SPF), no serious cases of flu have been admitted to hospitals since October 2020 even though the B virus and the A (H3N2) have been detected.

Between October 2018 and April 2019, around 9,500 deaths were attributed to the flu, SPF data shows.

“In the current context, physical distancing and barrier gestures are essential to limit the spread of the epidemic of Covid-19 and other viruses,” said an SPF spokesperson.

A greater take-up of the flu jab could have also contributed to the lower death toll.

SPF data show that in 2019 to 2020 only 20 percent of those over 65 considered to be at risk had the shot. Between 2020 and 2021, that figure had risen to 37 percent.

Common viruses

But as the death toll for the coronavirus in France continues to rise, a marked fall-off has been recorded for other illnesses.

In December 2020, 567 infants under two were taken to hospital with serious chest infections and 186 of them were kept in.

In the same period in 2019 nearly 5,000 went to hospital and almost 2,000 remained there.

The figures were even worse at the end 2018 when 6,000 went to hospital and just over 2,000 stayed.

“Even though there has been a slight increase over the past few months in medical procedures and emergency room visits for bronchiolitis, the numbers remain low and much lower than those observed the same week in previous years,” said an SPF spokesperson.

"The measures taken to stop coronavirus such as social distancing and the wearing of masks will give us the chance to see how these kind of barriers affect the virus which is the main cause of infant bronchitis," the spokesperson added.