As the total number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the flu has been a complete non-factor in Saskatchewan this season.
According to the Ministry of Health, there have been zero confirmed cases of influenza, compared to 1,334 cases reported last year at this point.
Medical health officer Dr. Tania Diener, who led the province’s influenza vaccine program, says COVID pandemic measures such as masking and hand-washing have been a major factor in keeping the flu at bay.
“All the hand sanitizer we’re using, the fact that there is partial lockdowns from time to time and much less travel — all of those made a huge difference,” Diener told the Brent Loucks Show on Tuesday.
“The influenza vaccination is still the best method for influenza prevention and we had a really good uptake this season.”
To date this season, there have been 55 confirmed influenza cases across Canada. That is significantly lower than the six-year average of 18,130 cases.
Diener said while COVID measures have helped suppress influenza, she can’t say if the measures will work once the pandemic is over.
“It’s difficult to say, first of all, because we don’t have an abundance of different strains that we can predict what’s going to be circulating next season,” she said. “It might be a little difficult to predict what to put in the vaccine.”
The province’s influenza surveillance program runs until the last week of March.