The flu mostly tends to spike during winter because it can survive better in winter or dry temperatures.
Health service is already under pressure, so it can’t cope with extra winter health difficulties. According to the report by leading medics, a surge in flu and other respiratory viruses can affect people’s health this winter. They also stated that flu, COVID-19, and a respiratory virus are common among children. The Academy of Medical Sciences report urges that if people have any symptoms, they should be isolated and stay at home. This can help protect against these respiratory viruses during the winter season. In this report, 29 leading medics warn that policymakers should be prepared to protect people from the challenging winter in the UK.
Winter Viruses are Back
During last winter, people in the UK weren’t exposed to these viruses. But now they are all set to make a comeback as the country eases lockdown restrictions. There has been a rise in winter viruses this summer among children.
Report author Prof Azra Ghani, from Imperial College London, states that the report predicted a rise of COVID-19 infections in summer 2021. It also reveals that the number of deaths may be less critical compared to last winter. The increase in infections may put pressure on the health service. Additionally, if the infection rate rises, there is a possibility for new and more deadly variants. The report says, in the worst-case scenario, it may lead to twice the levels of flu and other respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV). It is estimated that there are between 10,000 to 30,000 deaths because of flu in the normal winter and approximately 20,000 children below the age of five are hospitalized every year with RSV, which can lead to a lung infection known as bronchiolitis.
The study authors state that these flu viruses can produce similar symptoms so it is important to test for all three at once that can help differentiate between them. Testing can be done through Test and Trace or in GP practices, but it would be done so immediately so that antivirals can be used when the flu viruses are vulnerable. Dr. Alexander Edwards, from the University of Reading, stated that triple tests may have a great appeal and can be challenging. He further added that enough instruments and testing capacity should be available widely in health care centers. The report also stated that increasing COVID vaccines along with flu vaccines can reduce the spread of the virus this autumn. This has been already planned by the NHS for people aged more than 50 and can help control the spread in hospitals.
Stay at Home
The report urges all adults to receive vaccination against COVID-19 by September. At present, ⅔ of UK adults are fully vaccinated and 87% of people are partially vaccinated. The best way to reduce the transmission is to test when they have symptoms and stay at home if people are not well, says Professor Dame Anne Johnson, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
They also asked the government to increase the financial and practical support immediately, which will ask people to isolate themself if they have to. The medics also show the importance of social distance, face masks, and meeting friends outdoors so that they can protect themselves from COVID-19 viruses and other respiratory viruses as the country opens up.