With 45,171 confirmed cases and the death toll rising over 1,100, the virus recently named COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China continues to be a growing concern globally. China recorded a new daily record of 97 deaths, among the deaths included the first U.S citizen. In Japan, health officials have placed a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Cruise ship carrying over 3,000 people. Officials confirm over 130 cases of COVID-19 were found aboard the vessel and are continuing to test individuals exhibiting any symptoms. Here in the United States, there are 13 confirmed cases of the virus.
In addition to monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19, health officials are monitoring flu activity in the United States. The flu has swept through hospitals across the nation. This season ramps up to be one of the worst in history.
The flu season began early with the Influenza B as the predominant strain of the virus. Typically Influenza B is the dominant strain in the spring during the second half of flu season. Unfortunately, this strain can harm children more than the Influenza A strain, with 78 pediatrics deaths reported by the CDC for the season so far.
This season's flu shot might be less effective because of the unexpected Influenza B cases. The flu shot is created every year by experts who try to predict the dominant strains for the season. Since this year was an unexpected strain, the vaccine might not protect as well. The flu shot is still an essential part of illness prevention even on years that it does not perform as well, but this emphasizes the additional need for hand hygiene.
While the rise of COVID-19 across the globe has become a Public Health Emergency of international concern, the flu still poses an immediate threat to the United States. So far this season, there have been at least 22 million flu cases, 210,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths. These numbers confirm the necessity for people to be vigilant about avoiding these respiratory illnesses.
The recommendations for preventing respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19 include maintaining proper hand hygiene by frequently washing with soap and water as well as using alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable. It is also essential to regularly disinfect surfaces in high traffic areas with a surface disinfectant to prevent viruses from spreading.