How handwashing, new rules are keeping more than COVID away

THE number of flu cases being reported in the Wide Bay have continued to plummet this year in comparison to last year's horror influenza season.

For the year-to-date until September 13, the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service region has had 151 lab-confirmed cases of influenza.

This is a low number of cases compared to the average of 858 for the same time period from 2015 to 2019.

Last year was a record influenza season, with 1960 lab-confirmed cases at a comparable year-to-date point.

Wide Bay public health physician Dr Niall Conroy said the low number of reported influenza cases in the Wide Bay is consistent with what is occurring nationwide.

"It is likely that the fall in cases is the result of a number of aspects of the national response to COVID-19," he said.

"This includes social distancing, improved hand hygiene awareness and practice among the general public, and travel and gathering restrictions, which have likely limited influenza transmission as well.

"Concerns about COVID-19 have also led to an increased demand for flu vaccination before the traditional influenza season, which has meant more people are protected against the infection.

"Some settings, such as residential aged care, have also required all people entering the premises to be vaccinated, offering additional protection to vulnerable elderly people.

"Despite all the positive signs so far, it's important to remain vigilant about influenza, particularly with the increases in people's movements and interactions as restrictions have eased."

So far there have been 25 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the Wide Bay, all of which have now recovered.