December 4, 2020

The coronavirus coexisted with the most intense wave of influenza in five years


Covid-19 lived with the most intense wave of influenza in the last five years in the Canary Islands. When the coronavirus was still limited to affecting China, the flu virus spread through the Archipelago much more than in the previous five seasons and was present for longer. However, the massive vaccination that took place throughout the Canary Islands managed to reduce its virulence, which was reflected in the number of hospitalizations by 51% compared to the previous year.

The flu season started as usual at the end of December, specifically from the holiday period. In this sense, the Public Health Directorate, in its balance report of the 2019/2020 season, recalls that in the last five years it has only been the year 2018 that began much earlier than planned, at the end of November. By January, the flu virus had spread so widely across the Islands that it already exceeded the baseline threshold and began to become an epidemic. It occurred just after the feast of the Kings, reaching its maximum peak (of 318.54 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) in mid-February. The curve remained above the data recorded in the previous season every week until March 14, when, due to the outbreak of the pandemic, notifications of flu cases were abruptly paralyzed.

The virus expansion affected the Archipelago unevenly, being more prevalent among the islands of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The island with the highest maximum incidence was El Hierro, which accumulated 474.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by La Palma, with 316.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Gran Canaria and Tenerife had similar incidences of 296.3 and 279.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. The least affected islands were finally Fuerteventura (272), La Gomera (260.4) and Lanzarote (149). However, as the Public Health Directorate points out, “in La Palma and El Hierro the epidemic curve had a later start and a more irregular behavior”. The flu virus spread much more than in other years and the group most affected was that of children of pediatric age.

Thus, the most affected were children between 5 and 14 years old, with the most common finding cases of flu in 12-year-old boys and girls. The incidence in this group reached 719.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Not too far away was the one from 0 to 4 years old, which reached its maximum peak 3 weeks before the slightly older children. Vaccination allowed, however, that the impact of the virus on healthcare pressure was much less than in previous times. However, Public Health considers that it was still very low in patients declared as cases of influenza as in severe cases that presented at least one risk factor for complications, those admitted to the ICU and in the deceased.

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