The has been no one cases of influenza detected by health officials in England for the past seven weeks, with infection rates at historic lows amid the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
The social restrictions brought in to curb transmission of coronavirus, combined with an increased uptake of flu vaccine, have both been credited with driving down infections.
Thousands of swab samples are processed and analysed by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) on a weekly basis to survey the prevalence of different respiratory diseases in the population.
But of the 685,243 samples that have been reviewed at PHE’s laboratories since the first week of January, not a single one has tested positive for influenza.
In the week up 31 December 2020, just one case of flu was confirmed by laboratory analysis.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, head of flu at PHE, spoke with The Independent: “The decrease in flu cases this year is likely due to changes in our behaviour, such as social distancing, face coverings and handwashing, as well as the reduction in international travel.
“In England, more than 15 million people receive the flu jab every year, which helps protect them from flu and also stops them spreading it to others.
“This season’s immunisation programme is on track to be the most successful ever, with the highest levels of vaccine uptake recorded for those 65 years and over, 2 and 3-year-olds and healthcare workers.”