CORONAVIRUS/CECC cautions of dual threat from COVID-19, flu this winter

09/20/2022 09:38 PM
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Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday urged people to remain vigilant about personal hygiene amid concerns Taiwan could face a COVID-19 resurgence and flu outbreak in winter, with the latter expected to be severe this year.

People should wear masks and wash their hands properly to avoid both respiratory diseases, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press briefing, adding that free flu vaccine shots for vulnerable groups will be available starting Oct. 1.

Chang's comments came after Huang Li-min (黃立民), superintendent of National Taiwan University Children's Hospital, warned flu season could be particularly severe this year because COVID-19 control measures have limited people's exposure to the virus flu for a long time, driving natural immunity down.

Huang predicted 3 million to 4 million people in Taiwan, or 15 percent to 20 percent of the population could contract flu this winter, with some simultaneously catching COVID-19.

In response, Chuang said a flu surge is possible after Taiwan gradually opens its border in the coming months.

Chuang also suggested people with respiratory infection symptoms should first use a COVID-19 rapid test and go to a doctor to receive treatment for flu if the result is negative, adding that currently no company has applied to sell flu rapid tests for family use.

Individuals who contract COVID-19 and flu can take both medications at the same time, but as many are also likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, they should first seek advice on adjusting their existing medication, the CECC said.

(By Shen Pei-yao and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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