October 11, 2022 10:56
Korea is seeing signs of a resurgent seasonal flu after a two-year lull, mostly among children. Health authorities issued a flu alert already on Sept. 16, two to four months earlier than in previous years and the first warning since the coronavirus pandemic broke out.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Sunday, 7.1 out of 1,000 patients at hospitals and clinics from Sep. 25 to Oct. 1 had flu symptoms, up from 4.9 a week earlier.
Most of them were children. Some 12.1 were between one and six, six between 13 and 18, 5.2 between seven and 12, and 3.5 were infants.
Only 9.1 were between 19 and 49, 3.9 between 50 to 64, and three over 65.
In the winters of 2018 and 2019, the number of flu patients surpassed seven per 1,000 in early November, but the season came earlier this year.
Seasonal flu peaks between December and January at 70 to 80 for every 1,000. But flu cases fell during the COVID pandemic as most people wore masks and stayed at home.
From Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 there was a sharp increase of 53 percent in infections among infants and children aged one to six from the previous week. Many of them have no immunity because they did not catch flu during the pandemic.
Flu cases also surged 54 percent among adults under 50, who are the most active members of the population and can spread the virus quickly.
The government has been administering free flu vaccines since last week to children, pregnant women and the elderly.
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