China’s current flu infection situation is similar to that of seasonal flu in previous years before the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). On Tuesday, Wu Zunyou addressed the public’s concerns about the current upward trend in the spread of influenza in the country. Wu’s statement provides reassurance that the flu outbreak is not unusual, but rather a seasonal occurrence.
The annual influenza outbreak has recently entered its high season, with the influenza A (H1N1) virus rapidly spreading across China in a matter of weeks. As a result, there has been an increase in the proportion of influenza-like illnesses in both southern and northern areas of the country. According to data released by the China CDC, a total of 390 influenza-like illness outbreaks were reported nationwide during the eighth week of 2023, which was between February 20 and 26.
Although the number of reported influenza cases may appear alarming, it is important to note that the current situation is not unexpected. Seasonal flu is a common occurrence in China and other countries around the world. Health authorities have been working diligently to contain the spread of influenza through measures such as promoting vaccinations, conducting screenings, and increasing public awareness.
It is also worth noting that the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 can be similar. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to differentiate between the two diseases to prevent confusion and misdiagnosis. This underscores the importance of seeking medical attention and getting tested if one experiences symptoms of flu or COVID-19.
According to Wu Zunyou, China CDC’s chief epidemiologist, the alternating seasons of winter and spring are a period with a high incidence of respiratory infectious diseases. This is also the time when influenza cases in China show an upward trend. In a Sina Weibo post on Tuesday, Wu emphasized the importance of monitoring the situation closely during this period.
Wu went on to say that monitoring data from the sentinel hospitals nationwide set up by the China CDC shows a significant rise in the positive rates of infections with influenza virus among influenza-like illness cases. These cases are characterized by a temperature above 38°C, accompanied by cough or sore throat. The positive rate rose from 0.7% between January 30 and February 5 to 4.1% between February 6 and February 12. The positive rate of influenza virus continued to rise, reaching 14.3% between February 13 and 19 and further increased to 25.1% between February 20 and 26.
Based on this trend, Wu predicted that the flu epidemic would continue for a couple of weeks. However, he also reassured the public that, compared to the situation in the same period before the COVID-19 epidemic, China’s current flu epidemic is still at the level of a seasonal flu. The authorities are closely monitoring the situation and have taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
It is worth noting that the rise in positive rates of infections with influenza virus may be due to an increase in testing and screening for influenza. The authorities have been working diligently to contain the spread of the virus through measures such as promoting vaccinations, conducting screenings, and increasing public awareness. The public can also play their part by practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, and avoiding large gatherings.
While the rise in positive rates of infections with influenza virus is a cause for concern, it is important to note that China’s current flu epidemic is still at the level of a seasonal flu. The authorities are taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus, and the public can also play their part by practicing good hygiene and taking precautions.
According to Wu Zunyou, the decreased immunity of the population towards influenza is due to the prevention measures against COVID-19 that have been in place for the past three years. These measures have prevented the spread of influenza and, as a result, reduced the population’s exposure to the virus, leading to a decreased immunity.
Moreover, Wu emphasized that there is no cross-protection between COVID-19 and influenza. This means that being infected with COVID-19 recently would not protect people from contracting influenza viruses. It is crucial to recognize that the two viruses are distinct and require different prevention and treatment strategies.
Regarding the current COVID-19 epidemic, Wu noted that the situation is characterized by a low-level prevalence with sporadic cases and local clusters of cases. He described this as a smearing phenomenon of the nationwide epidemic. Over the past week, the daily number of positive infections for COVID-19 has remained over 10,000, which is a cause for concern.
The authorities are continuing to monitor the situation closely and have taken measures to contain the spread of the virus, including promoting vaccinations, conducting screenings, and increasing public awareness. The public can also play their part by practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, and avoiding large gatherings. It is crucial to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of both COVID-19 and influenza.
Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), believes that the mutated strains of the COVID-19 virus will not cause a new wave of COVID-19 in the near future. His opinion is based on the global COVID-19 situation, including the monitoring of mutated strains of the virus, as well as China’s tracing and observation on these mutant strains.
According to the China CDC, monitoring on the mutants of the viral strains shows that all the prevalent variants in China since December 1, 2022, are Omicron variants of 44 lineages. The predominant lineages are BA.5.2.48 (60.0 percent) and BF.7.14 (29.2 percent). Moreover, the composition of the predominant strains in cases reported in February is similar to that in December 2022 and January this year.
The China CDC has also detected 30 mutant strains that require special attention, including XBB.1, XBB.1.5, XBB.1.5.5, XBB.1.9, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BQ.1.1.17, BQ.1.2, and BQ.1.8. The CDC is closely monitoring these strains and conducting research to understand their properties and potential impact on public health.
Despite the detection of these mutant strains, Wu remains optimistic that they will not cause a new wave of COVID-19 in China in the near future. However, he emphasized the importance of continued vigilance and proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as promoting vaccinations and practicing good hygiene.
The authorities are continuing to monitor the situation closely and have taken measures to contain the spread of the virus, including conducting screenings, increasing public awareness, and implementing targeted measures in high-risk areas. The public can also play their part by taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and staying informed about the latest developments regarding the virus and its variants.
In conclusion, Wu Zunyou’s statement provides some reassurance to the public that the current flu outbreak is not unusual and is being managed by health authorities. Nevertheless, it is important to remain vigilant and take preventive measures to protect oneself and others from both seasonal flu and COVID-19.