Israel reports first case of florona: A layman’s guide to understanding the new disease

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The double infection was first identified in a woman on 31 December who went into labour at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva

Representational image. News18

Israel on Sunday approved a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people over 60 years old and medical staff, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said.

In a televised press conference, Bennett said the fourth dose of the vaccine, developed by Pfizer, was approved by the country’s health ministry for people over 60 and medical personnel who received the third dose at least four months ago.

Bennett urged the elders to get the booster shot, warning that Israel is on the verge of another surge in morbidity due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The country is likely “to see as many as 50,000 new coronavirus cases,” Bennett said.

The decision comes in the wake of the country reporting its first case of ‘florona’, which is not a variant but the simultaneous occurrence of influenza and coronavirus .

Florona

On 31 December Arab News took to Twitter to announce that Israel has announced its first case of Florona.

According to Ynet, a major Israeli news and general-content website, “The double infection was first identified in a woman who went into labour this week at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. According to the hospital, the young mother, who is not vaccinated against either pathogen, is feeling well and is expected to be discharged from the hospital later Thursday.

Professor Arnon Vizhnitser, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist and the director of the hospital’s gynaecology department said, “She was diagnosed with the flu and coronavirus as soon as she arrived. Both tests came back positive, even after we checked again,” he said. “The disease is the same disease; they’re viral and cause difficulty breathing since both attack the upper respiratory tract.”

According to a Hindustan Times report, Dr Nahla Abdel Wahab, a doctor at Cairo University Hospital, told Israeli media that Florona may indicate a major breakdown of the immunity system as two viruses are entering the human body at the same time.

Influenza

According to the Israeli health ministry, 1,849 Israelis are currently hospitalised with the flu, including 605 children and 124 pregnant women and new mothers and new cases are continuing to rise among both the young and old.

Symptoms

According to CNN-New18, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that for both COVID-19 and influenza, “one or more days can pass between when a person becomes infected and when he or she starts to experience illness symptoms” although for a COVID-19 infection, “it could take them longer to experience symptoms than if they had flu”. In flu, the CDC notes, a person experiences symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection while with COVID-19 onset of symptoms happens about “five days after being infected, but symptoms can appear two to 14 days after infection”.

The CDC further says that both flu viruses and the novel coronavirus “can be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms; by people with very mild symptoms” and by asymptomatic people. It spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with one another of under six feet distance and is borne by “by large and small particles containing virus that are expelled when people with the illness ( COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk”, which in turn can be inhaled. Infection is also possible by touching a surface contaminated with droplets from an infected person and then touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Reaction

The health ministry has called on the general public from the age of six months and up to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine can be administered together with the coronavirus vaccine or at any time interval from it.

The World Health Organization has advised that people should continue to follow prevention measures, such as maintaining at least a one-metre distance from others, wearing a well-fitted mask when keeping your distance is not possible, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated places and settings, opening windows and doors to keep rooms well ventilated and cleaning your hands frequently.

With inputs from agencies

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