One of the main preventative measures for Coronavirus currently recommended is standard hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Anecdotally at least people have increased their hand-washing substantially although I haven't found a study giving validated numbers. Given that this type of hand-washing has been recommended for centuries to reduce the transmission of common colds and other viruses, has there been any noticeable reduction in the number of other reported infections or transmission of those diseases it is known to prevent?


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I don't know if it's just handwashing, but Australia is reporting a significant decrease in flu this season:

Following a high start to the 2020 interseasonal period, currently, influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) activity are lower than average across all systems for this time of year. At the national level, notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza have substantially decreased since mid-March and remain low.

In the detailed PDF for May, which was linked from the first link above but is now gone, they say:

Interpretation of 2020 influenza activity data should take into account, but are not limited to, the impact of social distancing measures, likely changes in health seeking behaviour of the community including access to alternative streams of acute respiratory infection specific health services, and focussed testing for COVID-19 response activities. Current COVID-19 related public health measures and the community’s adherence to public health messages are also likely having an effect on transmission of acute respiratory infections, including influenza. 

And provide a lot of graphs. I think this one is the most impressive:

enter image description here

The "second half of June" detailed PDF is here, but may go away. Future readers should go to the first link and look for links under the Full Report heading.

  • Impressive graph! I'm not a health-care professional, but I theorize as follows: Maybe influenza patients are staying home instead of visiting their doctor, and maybe that's another part of the reason why lab-confirmed influenza cases are so low during the COVID pandemic. Jul 5, 2020 at 22:40
  • 1
    I believe that's what the report means by "likely changes in health seeking behaviour of the community " Jul 5, 2020 at 23:28
  • I wonder how many flu cases are being diagnosed (professionally or just by the patient) as Covid - particularly those with mild symptoms who don't go to hospital or even their doctor and so are not actually tested for flu. It would be interesting to see the actual numbers of flu tests against previous years as well, but I'm not seeing that in a quick glance at the first link. The second link is broken.
    – Dragonel
    Jul 6, 2020 at 16:08
  • @Dragonel apparently they replace the PDF every few weeks and take the old one away. Right now you'll find it at www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/… and Figure 9 is even more impressive than the image in my post. Jul 6, 2020 at 19:05
  • If anyone is interested, you can find the latest (and earlier) reports by starting from www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/…
    – Dragonel
    Jul 24, 2020 at 17:23

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