Aussies warned of triple threat from Covid, common cold and the flu

Australia is bracing for an influenza surge amid the common cold and Covid cases as experts say vaccination is not “front and centre in people’s minds”.

Australia is bracing for a nationwide triple threat this winter as health experts warn residents of an influenza surge amid cases of the common flu and Covid-19.

A new report released on Monday revealed that Australia has recorded almost 3000 influenza cases so far this year – it’s highest number of reports since 2019.

The 2022 influenza report card highlighted the country’s low influenza vaccination rate, representing only 11 per cent of the population.

Infectious disease expert Robert Booy told NCA NewsWire that both influenza and Covid were highly contagious viral infections that could lead to serious illness, hospitalisation or even death.

Professor Booy said community immunity was low following the pandemic, with each influenza season differing in impact.

“We expect that with global travel resuming, influenza strains will also travel and infection rates will rise, so we’re going to get a surge this year,” he said.

“Our community is not used to dealing with flu virus, so their level of immunity has dropped.”

QUEENSLAND

Queenslanders have been warned of a “significant wave” – a potentially deadly combination of influenza and Covid.

Chief health officer John Gerrard said more than 800 influenza cases had ben reported in Queensland, with most of them in the past three weeks.

“In Queensland last year there were just 296 confirmed cases of influenza from the entire 2021. By comparison so far this year we have seen more than 800 cases of influenza in Queensland – for the past three weeks the number of influenza cases has doubled every week for the past three weeks,” Dr Gerrard said.

He said clinical evidence suggested that infection with both viruses was more severe than any one virus alone.

“We have seen more than a dozen combined infections and a number of those people have been hospitalised,” he said.

During Australia’s last flu season in 2019, more than 950 people died, including a one-year-old child. At least 378 Australians aged one to 100 died with influenza in 2018.

VICTORIA

More than 886 cases of influenza have been recorded in Victoria this year, including hundreds in recent days.

This figure is up by 10 per cent compared with 2021 data.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said Victorians had skipped two flu seasons “and it’s probably not front and centre in people’s minds”.

“All I can say is don’t wait for those flu stories to arise, that will be too late,” he said.

Children under five are considered high risk and eligible for free vaccination yet only 3 per cent of this age group are vaccinated against influenza.

Just 30 per cent of Australians aged from 65 years have had their government-funded influenza vaccine.