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The use of the mask has prevented infections of other respiratory transmitted diseases such as the flu, chicken pox, whooping cough, mumps and measles

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The use of the mask, together with the rest of the security measures adopted to avoid contagion by COVID-19 (mask, social distance, hand hygiene and ventilation), have brought with them a significant reduction in the number of cases of other types of respiratory transmitted diseases.


Thus, significantly, during the years 2020 and 2021, a considerable reduction can be seen in the number of diseases such as influenza, mumps, whooping cough or chicken pox, as reflected in the data from the Epidemiology service of the management General Public Health of the Ministry of Health. In addition, measles disappears and no case has been detected during the past year.


According to the head of the Epidemiological Surveillance and Control Service, Francisco Javier Roig, of the General Directorate of Public Health and Addictions, “this decrease is not due to COVID itself, but fundamentally to the measures that have been taken to stop it, since they are generic measures for all respiratory transmitted diseases”.


According to the data, from 2019 to date, flu cases reported to the Epidemiological Surveillance Analysis (AVE) application have decreased by 96.94%. In fact, in 2019, 80,308 cases of flu were reported, while in 2020 the figure dropped to 37,985 cases and in 2021 2,456 cases have been registered. The data collected by AVE is annual.


On the other hand, chicken pox falls by 82.99%. The cases notified to the AVE in 2019 were 7,288, compared to 1,803 in 2020 and 1,240 cases registered in 2021. In the case of mumps (mumps) it has been reduced by 69.54% (from 604 cases in 2019 to 329 cases in 2020, and only 184 cases in 2021).


Whooping cough is another disease whose incidence has been drastically reduced. In fact, in 2019, 355 cases were reported, while in 2020 the figure decreased to 121 cases and in 2021 only 12 cases have been registered.


Finally, in the case of measles, which as a general rule tend to be recorded in imported cases, the fact of reducing mobility during the pandemic has had a strong influence, since the cases have disappeared. In 2019, 29 cases of measles of imported origin were detected, while in 2020 there was one case and in 2021 none. In this case, Roig points out that “in the case of measles, although the mask has contributed, 99% of the merit is due to vaccination coverage.”


All this data is collected in the Epidemiological Surveillance Analysis application, a tool that collects notifications of Compulsory Declaration Diseases (EDO).


As explained by Francisco Javier Roig, “the epidemiological surveillance of all the EDOs has continued throughout the pandemic, as well as the activities aimed at the microbiological confirmation of the cases compared to the pre-pandemic years.


Decrease in severe cases of influenza


On the other hand, the confirmed cases of serious influenza, those that require hospitalization, have also decreased significantly according to the data registered in AVE and REDMIVA (Microbiological Surveillance Network of the Valencian Community).


In this sense, the surveillance network collects during the 2018-19 flu season (from October to May) a total of 1,054 serious flu cases, while in the 2019-20 period the cases are reduced to 578 and in the season From 2020-2021, only 5 serious cases of flu were recorded. On the other hand, during the 2021-22 period there is a slight increase in cases, since 43 serious cases of influenza have been reported to date.


Finally, hospital emergency services have also seen half of the cases of respiratory viruses recorded during the pandemic period. Specifically, adenoviruses, a group of viruses that can cause different types of infections and are also transmitted by the respiratory route, among others, have been reduced from 653 samples detected in the 2018-2019 period to 293 confirmed samples in 2020-2021. The same is true of respiratory syncytial virus, which has gone from 2,706 confirmed tests in 2018-19 to a total of 1,016 during the 2020-21 period.

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