Public Health England reports that no ‘flu cases were detected in the seven weeks from 28 December 2020. So what does this mean for the future?
Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for monitoring various seasonal respiratory viruses throughout the year. It collects data on ‘flu from various sources including 111 calls and GP surgeries. It also uses data from sources such as Google to examine searches for indications that colds and ‘flu are prevalent. Its reports show a significant reduction in respiratory illnesses across the winter of 2020/21. Its laboratory test data detected no ‘flu positive samples between 28 December 2020 and 14 February 2021. In fact, only a single case was found in samples between 21 and 28 December 2020.
PHE has stated that the reduction is likely to be caused by the application of public health guidance as well as a good uptake of the winter ‘flu vaccination programme.
Will it last?
The reduction in foreign and domestic travel, alongside social distancing, face coverings, increased surface cleaning and better hand hygiene, may all have contributed to a lowering in cases of seasonal illness. In fact this isn’t unexpected. During previous ‘flu pandemics, it was reported that hygiene measures put in place at larger workplaces had caused a reduction in seasonal absence from colds etc. The evidence is therefore mounting that simple and low-cost measures are well worth continuing with in order to reduce sickness absence.
When the pandemic further recedes consider the continuation of measures to encourage hand hygiene at your premises, for example, maintain hand sanitiser stations at your entrance. It’s also worth retaining any low-cost measures which enhance the cleaning of frequently touched surfaces such as handrails and doorplates.