Medical Association has advised the use of facemasks to minimise the impact of
respiratory infections such as influenza.
Doctors here and elsewhere say wearing a mask might help, but the best of all protections is a flu vaccine.
Those who suspect they are susceptible or already have a severe cold or flu should wear a mask to stop passing it on to others, doctors advise. This means wearing a mask while among your own household as well as when out and about in public places.
About 96% of patients admitted to Portuguese hospital emergency units recently are being treated for influenza, according to a spokesperson for the National Institute of Health. Don’t be surprised if healthcare workers are wearing a facemask as the bug is the last thing they want to contract while looking after patients.
Influenza can kill. But don’t panic. An annual flu jab for everyone but babies younger than six months is highly advisable.
Frequent hand washing is very important. Wash with soap and water each time for at least 20 seconds. Otherwise, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Those close to you should do the same. Hand washing is especially important after coughing or sneezing.
Often touched surfaces in the kitchen, for example, can hang on to, and pass on, the virus. So make sure they are frequently cleaned.
The flu virus travels willy-nilly through the air and if you catch it, it usually lasts for five to seven days, but maybe 14 days.
Good luck – and Happy New Year!