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Seasonal flu may return to Turkey this fall, top medical expert warns

Seasonal flu may return to Turkey this fall, top medical expert warns

Fever, coughing, muscle pain and fatigue. Before the coronavirus emerged as a public threat, these were the symptoms of seasonal influenza to the untrained eye. The two infections were confused in the early days of the pandemic, but nowadays people are more convinced they have COVID-19 if they exhibit these symptoms. They are right, in a way, at least in Turkey, as flu cases have almost vanished into thin air since 2020. Did the seasonal infection really go away? The answer is a firm “no” from experts, who say that as the autumn sets in the flu may return more forcefully.

Professor Alper Şener, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says they expected a rise in flu cases this year. “This is not something that suddenly appears and then disappears forever. Flu has not been circulating in the past year, but it will return,” he warned.

Strict individual measures, which became a public health policy, helped curb flu cases or at least decrease the more severe bouts of infection. In a country where protective masks against COVID-19 have been mandatory and people have avoided social contact, both on their own and with social distancing restrictions, the number of flu cases hit rock bottom. But as coronavirus cases climb, they may rise again, due to similar instigators of the pandemic surge. While the rise in COVID-19 cases is blamed on the new, stronger delta and delta plus variants, people ignoring calls for vaccination and ditching masks and social distancing, a flu influx could be triggered by closer interaction between people not wearing masks properly.

Şener also warns about a common misconception among the public. “You are not vaccinated against flu when you have your coronavirus vaccine. They are different vaccines. Even if you are inoculated against coronavirus, you have to have your flu shot separately,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday.