More flu cases in Mallorca. | Jaume Morey

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A flu pandemic is sweeping across the Balearic Islands with an increasing number of cases reported in the last month and experts say infections are at their highest level since 2016.

At the beginning of this year Covid-19 was the main cause of respiratory symptoms, but as cases decreased, more people have been getting the flu.

“There are now 2,530 cases of flu in the Balearics and the current trend is upward,” explains the head of Virology at Son Espases, Dr Jordi Reina. “Vaccination against the flu began in November for risk groups, so six months later it's much less effective, so there is more danger than a typical year and it’s mostly children who are spreading it.”

Disease explosion

The flu is something we expect to get in January, not in April, but these days practically everybody knows someone who has the flu, pharyngitis, a sore throat or just a cough that’s definitely not Covid.

"Since mid-March we have seen an explosion of respiratory viruses of all kinds,” says Dr Reina. “The drop in Covid-19 since January has allowed other viruses to emerge. The cold weather in March didn't help and people have been socialising more since the Covid restrictions were lifted so it has spread fast, but we are still surprised because it is a very rare change in pattern.”

Primary Care consultants say they've also noticed an increase in flu cases.

"More streptococcal pharyngitis, tonsillitis or viral infections went undiagnosed because the infections were mild and caused trivial respiratory problems,” says Dr Vicente Reyes from Can Pastilla Health Centre, who agrees that it’s unusual to see so many cases of flu at this time of year.

Meanwhile, Covid hasn’t completely disappeared and Dr Fernando Garciía Romanos in Santa Catalina says there have been a number of rebound cases.