Jul 23, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus measures have cut flu infections in Southern Hemisphere

Social-distancing measures in place at a church in New Zealand. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

In the Southern Hemisphere, where it's currently winter, there have been much fewer flu cases than normal — likely a result of the same measures being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: As bad as the pandemic is in the U.S., things could get a whole lot worse if the flu is spreading and straining health system resources at the same time during the fall and winter.

Yes, but: The reason that coronavirus cases have soared in the U.S. is that people have resumed their normal lives, or at least parts of them, enabling the virus to spread. If that continues, then the flu will be able to spread, too.

  • In other words, flu cases and coronavirus cases probably move in tandem. Since most of the world has done a better job containing the coronavirus than we have, it's reasonable to expect they'll end up having managed the flu better, too.
  • Kids are also a primary way the flu spreads. Many of the countries with reduced flu cases imposed school and day care closures, whereas the Trump administration is pushing U.S. schools to be open in the fall.

The other side: Even countries that have struggled to contain the coronavirus have seen reduced flu cases. In Brazil, flu cases have fallen by about 40% and deaths by half.

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