The social restrictions imposed upon our lives because of coronavirus have taken a toll on our emotions, finances, and our waistlines, but there may yet be a silver-lining: a reduction in cases of other infectious diseases. From the common cold to chickenpox, there has been a substantial drop in the number of infections being reported to GPs, despite children returning to school – and that looks set to continue as winter approaches and lockdown restrictions tighten across the country.
According to the latest GP surveillance data for England there were 1.5 cases of common cold for every 100,000 people during the week ending 6 October – compared to 92.5 cases reported during the same week last year. The rate of other non-Covid respiratory illnesses was also lower, at 131 for every 100,000 people, compared to 303 last year. Influenza-like illness is also down, at 131 cases for every 100,000 people, versus 303 cases in 2019.
Although there has been in increase since the start of the school term, for all of these illnesses, infection rates remain below expected seasonal levels for this time of year, the report by the Royal College of General Practitioners’ research and surveillance centre said. Equivalent data was not immediately accessible for Wales and Scotland.
GP consultations for other infectious diseases like strep throat, tonsillitis and impetigo, as well as infectious intestinal diseases like norovirus are also well below the five-year average – and have been since late March – the report suggests.
Source: The Guardian, 9 October 2020