Hand Hygiene Plays a Big Role in Declining Influenza Cases This Winter
Ask many of the hospitals in and around Brisbane, Queensland, and they’ll tell you the same story. Flu-related hospital admissions have dropped to just one this flu season, compared to 900+ cases more than a year ago.
This welcome decline in influenza cases is suspected to be directly impacted by the focus on hygiene, social distancing, increased community use of face masks and restrictions on indoor gatherings.
The Metro North Region – which includes Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Prince Charles, Caboolture, Redcliffe and Kilcoy public hospitals – had zero flu admissions between June and August this year, down from 526 cases last winter. The Metro South Region had only one admission for flu symptoms.
A Metro North Hospital and Health Service representative said “Social distancing and commitment to hand hygiene has played a role in preventing the spread of influenza this year.”
Across the state, the trend of declining numbers of influenza sufferers continues. There were only 120 cases of influenza Australia-wide, compared to the 60,000 cases recorded last winter.
All the health experts are reporting that mindfulness around social distancing and commitment to good hand hygiene, including frequent use of hand sanitiser is playing a big part in the decline of flu cases. There has also been an uptake in flu vaccinations, due to COVID-19 this flu season.
Throughout 2020, hand sanitiser has become a familiar part of our community environment, with sanitiser available in virtually every home, workplace, retail, education, entertainment, and sporting facility around the country.
Interestingly, while influenza has experienced a decline due to changing behaviours around hygiene and social distancing, the common cold has not seen any change. This is due to the virus not being susceptible to alcohol hand wash.
Experts are hoping that alcohol based hand sanitiser, social distancing, and use of face masks to limit community spread will become the norm post-COVID-19.
The flu kills thousands of people every year, and with these figures revealing the positive outcomes of the community restrictions and focus on hand hygiene, we are advocating for the continued and permanent use of hand sanitiser in all community settings.
HygiMed Australia supplies hygiene products and encourages industry to support locally-owned businesses when purchasing supplies such as hand sanitiser, wipes and hygiene stands. Together we can get through this, and take the lessons we’ve learned through the ordeal to improve our society into the future.