The number of flu cases and suspicions in April 2020 was the lowest in Poland since 2013 and amounted to only 133,000. This may be due to both the positive and negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of flu cases has fallen more than twice
The number of flu cases (along with flu suspicions) has been increasing in Poland for many years. The year 2019 brought a slight slowdown in the upward trend, as the total number of cases was 4.8 million, compared to 5 million in 2017 and 5.2 million in 2018. It seems that in 2020 the number of cases may fall for the second consecutive year. In the first four months of the year, it was slightly over 2 million and was the lowest since 2015. In April alone, however, it was already at a record low level of 133,000, which was the lowest rate in the last eight years (in earlier years the data were reported in a different way and therefore cannot be comparable). Year on year, the number of influenza cases in April fell almost 2.5 times, i.e. by over 60%.
In our opinion, such a low incidence is due to two main factors. Firstly, due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a significant number of outpatient clinics have reduced their activities or switched to a telemedical work system. This resulted in a significant decrease in the number of visits to doctors and increased importance of self-treatment. However, it also contributed to a much lower number of influenza cases reported by doctors.
On the other hand, the restrictions caused by the pandemic and the sanitary regime introduced for this reason, which were supposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, have also had an impact on the reduction of the flu incidence.
61 deaths due to flu
During the first four months of 2020, 61 people died of influenza in Poland. This is a clear decrease compared to 2019, when there were nearly 150 such deaths in the same period. At the same time, the chart below shows that the number of flu-related deaths may not be reported in a consistent manner. Therefore, it should be treated only as an indication.
Due to the lack of comprehensive diagnostics, a significant number of cases are certainly not reported (e.g. deaths at home, without hospitalisation). On the other hand, it is not clear how the cause of deaths of people with coexisting diseases who have also contracted influenza is reported. Whether these deaths are classified as being caused by flu or by another concomitant disease. The uncertainties that have been revealed in the current coronavirus pandemic allow us to suppose that the approach to this subject differs between individual doctors and sanitary authorities.