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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.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: Unvaccinated kids must wear masks in school this fall — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: Taiwan raises COVID-19 alert level amid surge in cases — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 30, 2020 - World

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Photo: THIERRY ROGE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.

Oct 31, 2020 - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

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