Tasmanians are being urged to get the flu vaccine as coronavirus restrictions ease. Image by Sam Mooy/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Flu cases fall in Tasmania amid COVID-19

2020-06-30 15:07:56

Coronavirus restrictions have helped put a big dent in flu cases in Tasmania but the state government is wary of a spike under eased rules.

The state recorded 158 influenza cases from January to May, compared to 995 across the same time last year. 

More than 200,000 Tasmanians have received a flu shot this year but Health Minister Sarah Courtney has urged more to come forward. 

“Being able to prevent another respiratory illness is really important,” she told reporters on Monday. 

“Not only to protect you and your community but also to ensure we’ve got capacity within our health systems.

“We know the flu can put major pressure on our hospitals each year.” 

From April to early October last year, 235 patients were admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital with the flu.

Children aged between six months and five years, people 65 or older and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are among those eligible for a free influenza vaccine. 

The island, which is free of active COVID-19 cases, moved to stage three of restrictions last Friday, allowing up to 500 people at indoor venues and 250 at indoor ones. 

The state government is planning to reopen borders to mainland Australia on July 24 but will keep a close eye on a coronavirus spike in Victoria. 

“As restrictions start to ease and people start mingling again we will see more passing on of things like the common cold and flu,” Ms Courtney said, adding good personal hygiene and social distancing were behind the lower flu numbers.