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Return of the common cold: infections surge in UK as autumn arrives

The return of schools and the arrival of autumn means common colds and other respiratory infections are firmly on the rise, spreading coughs and sneezes, more severe illnesses, and prompting some to report their worst colds ever.

According to Public Health England, there is no particularly nasty new virus doing the rounds, but as cases rise, experts warn that people can expect more frequent infections and more serious symptoms now the UK is emerging from lockdown.

Common colds and other respiratory tract infections tend to ramp up in September when the schools go back and autumn arrives, but after 18 months of social distancing and mask wearing, many people are thought to have weaker immune defences to protect themselves against the onslaught of respiratory viruses.

With reduced immunity across the board, people may fall ill with viruses they would normally have fended off with little trouble, or develop co-infections that make them feel more poorly. This is particularly likely if the viruses that have been kept at bay by anti-Covid measures all bounce back at once.

“We don’t know what we’re going to see with common colds this season,” said Prof Ronald Eccles, former director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University. “We’re seeing this increase now, but the whole system has been knocked out of kilter by the fact that we’ve been socially distancing and wearing masks, and children have not had that immunity over the past year or so.”

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Source: The Guardian, 24 September 2021


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