The immune system could become more vulnerable as a result of the corona measures

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Our immune system has less to do than usual due to lockdown and hygiene measures. Researchers therefore fear that our bodies will become more susceptible to infectious diseases, as reported by the “Stern”.

In Hong Kong, for example, there were an unusually high number of outbreaks of respiratory infections last year when face-to-face classes were resumed in schools despite strict corona measures.

The pathogens are more persistent and more resistant to some distance and hygiene regulations than coronaviruses.

Social distancing, school closings, FFP2 masks when shopping as well as on buses and trains: Public spaces and community life currently only exist – if at all – with special protective precautions. The activities against the spread of the novel Coronavirus have the side effect that other infectious diseases – such as the common flu – do not have an easy game. However, this makes the immune system less busy, which could make people more susceptible to infectious diseases.

One suspects that Study from Hong Kong. There was a rapid increase in the number of infectious diseases when children returned to classroom teaching or daycare after several long school closings – despite the strict hygiene measures that still apply. The “star” initially had reported about it.

482 outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection in Hong Kong schools

Between late October and late November, Hongkong accordingly 482 outbreaks of upper respiratory infections were counted – 308 of them in elementary schools and 149 in kindergartens and day-care centers. The remaining outbreaks occurred in secondary schools. In total, there have been 81 major outbreaks with at least 20 people affected. This corresponds to the total number of similarly sized outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infections and, according to the study Influenza– or flu-like illnesses between 2017 and 2019. At the end of November, schools therefore closed again for younger children.

However, the diseases were not caused by the new coronavirus, but by rhino and enteroviruses – actually harmless pathogens that cause colds or rather mild infectious diseases. It is unusual for these pathogens to trigger such large outbreaks. The authors therefore suspect that social distancing made people more susceptible to infectious diseases because they were less exposed to the pathogens over a longer period of time.

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The schools in Hong Kong were closed after the Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of January 2020 up to and including May. After openings in June, further closings followed from July to September. During this time, classes took place exclusively online. Other studies have shown that around 75 percent of the children had no contact with people outside their household during this time – and therefore little contact with respiratory viruses. This could have increased “the transmission potential when the schools reopened”, according to the study.

Rhinoviruses are more persistent than coronaviruses

British researchers published this as early as October last year in the journal “The Lancet” a study of similar cases in the UK. In Southampton, there had been a sharp increase in cold cases about two weeks after classroom teaching resumed in September. There, however, the development corresponds to the figures from the previous year.

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In both cases, however, the outbreaks of rhino and enteroviruses occurred despite strict hygiene measures in the schools. In addition to distance and the renouncement of group activities, masks had to be worn all the time in Hong Kong, for example. However, rhinoviruses are more persistent than cold viruses, as reported by the “Stern”. They could not be stopped by mouth and nose protection and are also more robust against disinfectants. The effectiveness of the measures thus differs depending on the type of virus.


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