‘Australian flu’: spread prompts handshake ban in Northern Ireland churches
According to a media report, a Catholic diocese in Northern Island has banned shaking hands as a ‘sign of peace’ due to fears of a flue outbreak, reports Guardian. At the end of the Australian winter, at least 170,000 flu cases were reported which was more than twice as many as in 2016. Guardian reported that there were 72 flu related deaths. The H3N2 virus also known as “Australian flu” or “Aussie flu” has spread in UK and Ireland in recent weeks. Noel Treanor from the office of the Bishop said the diocese of Down has decided to reactivate sanitary measures to stay safe from the swine flu. The public health author ity has suggested all parishioners to have good hygiene practice. Moreover, the parishioners are recommended to use sterilize hand gels and hand was soaps to reduce risk of infection. They should stay at home if they develop any kind of flu. The peace handshake during the mass is cancelled until the risk of infection is reduced. There should be arrangements for all ministers to use alcohol gel or wash their hands in warm soapy water before and after mass to reduce the risk of infection. These safety measures are not permanent until the risk of infection is significantly reduced. UK’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the Australian flu is straining all resources at the NHS. He informed the Sky news they got extra pressure this year due to an increase in flu and respiratory illness which they didn’t have last year.