Getting sick in lockdown – Expert Reaction

Despite the dramatic reduction in social interaction at Alert Level 4, some of us are still getting sick with conditions that are normally spread through social contact.

The prevalence of colds and flu has fallen under lockdown, but it is still possible to catch a viral or bacterial infection while living in your bubble.

The SMC asked experts to comment on why we still get sick in lockdown.

Dr Matloob Husain, Senior Lecturer in Virology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, comments:

“In addition to respiratory viruses (like SARS 2.0, and influenza), other bugs like bacteria and fungi can also cause cold sickness like sore throat. Similarly, gastrointestinal viruses, bacteria, fungi, and some protozoa can cause sickness like diarrhea and vomiting. These bugs are part of our ecosystem and found everywhere, and can be easily picked up by people through contaminated sources like soil/water, stored food, unwashed vegetables/fruits, and other surfaces.

“Although lockdown has forced people to stay in their bubble, under the Level 4 rules of limited movement we are still interacting with such sources through visits to supermarkets, parks, DIY works, etc. Further, some people aren’t entirely obeying the Level 4 restrictions.

“Moreover, the weather has been colder lately, which may also have contributed to a localised spike in such sicknesses, because human body’s immune system is relatively dampened during wintry temperatures. Therefore, it is not surprising that you will see some pockets of such illnesses even during lockdown.”

No conflict of interest.