Flu cases increase in 2018
‘The researchers also discovered that Carnival was responsible for an increase in the number of flu cases in 2018,’ according to the LUMC. Their results have been published in the scientific journal BMC Public Health.
‘What was thought for a long time has now been proven’, says Willem Lijfersing, epidemiologist at the LUMC. The number of COVID-19 cases after Carnival this year was much higher in Carnival regions than in non-partying municipalities. With data from the RIVM, we were able to determine the number of COVID-19 cases per region and therefore also compare it. ‘
Spread other viruses
But does this also apply to other respiratory infections? ‘In 2018 we had a serious flu season that exactly included Carnival. In the same way, we compared the number of flu cases between the regions and it showed that Carnival could also spread the flu virus more. ‘ L figureing concludes: ‘Our study therefore shows that the corona and flu virus spreads faster due to a major event.’
No more killing
But are more cases per se bad? ‘You really have to ask yourself that’, says Lijfersing, ‘and what do you consider bad? The number of infections or only when more people die? ‘ The researchers saw that in 2018 the number of flu cases was higher in carnival regions, but the number of deaths over the entire year was comparable between the regions.
‘Probably no effect on deaths’
‘If you want to prevent infections, you could choose not to organize carnival during a flu season. But if you want to reduce the number of deaths, this will probably have no effect, ‘says L figureing. For COVID-19 it is not yet known whether more people have died in carnival regions. ‘The data for this year is of course not complete yet. But it would be very interesting to find out. ‘
According to Willem, this method is easy to implement and can be used for all kinds of other issues of our time. For example, what is the contribution of traveling by public transport on the spread of the flu or corona virus? And what about museum visits? These are both questions I would like to explore. Events are not allowed to take place at the moment, but we are actually not sure what role these meetings play in the spread of a virus. ‘