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Hinds: More documented influenza cases

Rishard Khan

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There are more doc­u­ment­ed in­fluen­za cas­es for this pe­ri­od com­pared to pre­vi­ous years, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Health’s Epi­demi­ol­o­gy Di­vi­sion’s Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor Dr Av­ery Hinds.

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Speak­ing at Wednes­day’s vir­tu­al COVID-19 press brief­ing, Hinds said the main in­fluen­za strain cur­rent­ly in cir­cu­la­tion in T&T is H3N2.

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“The num­ber of cas­es so far for this point in the year, or up to this point in the year, ac­tu­al­ly just ex­ceeds the num­ber of cas­es that would have been de­tect­ed last year,” Hinds said

How­ev­er, he said this could be a re­sult of the way they test­ed for the virus

“We have to bear in mind the test­ing was more fo­cused on COVID-19 last year to some ex­tent at the ex­pense of oth­er test­ing, be­cause the re­sources for test­ing all of these virus­es are shared. It’s the same peo­ple, the same ma­chines, it’s re­al­ly whether you use them to do one test or an­oth­er, so it may not be a fair com­par­i­son,” he said

This year, he said test­ing has been in­creased for res­pi­ra­to­ry ail­ments, which could be why larg­er num­bers of in­fluen­za are record­ed

In­fluen­za sea­son runs from Oc­to­ber to May but Hinds said it can spread out­side of this win­dow

“In­fluen­za doesn’t ac­tu­al­ly read the book on sea­sons, so in­fluen­za will spread once it gets in­to a pop­u­la­tion and there’s lots of move­ment,” he said

“We had a lot of move­ment with­in this Ju­ly/Au­gust pe­ri­od. We would have had a rein­tro­duc­tion of trav­el, bring­ing things from oth­er coun­tries in­to our pop­u­la­tion in a pat­tern that would dif­fer from oth­er years be­cause there was a re­duc­tion in mo­bil­i­ty, fol­lowed by a re­moval of those re­stric­tions and spikes in trav­el in points in time that don’t cor­re­spond to the nor­mal trav­el pe­ri­od.”

On the COVID-19 front, he said there was a de­crease in new in­fec­tions, which he hopes is a sign the BA.5 Omi­cron sub-lin­eage has run its course