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Is it the cold, the flu or covid? What to know amid rapid spread of omicron

Health officials fear a potential collision of flu and coronavirus infections

With more families gathering for the holidays indoors, doctors are bracing this winter for a “twindemic” of flu and coronavirus infections fueled by the rapid spread of the omicron variant, reports the Washington Post.

At least three dozen U.S. states have already reported variant cases, and it is likely present in most countries in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Facing a possible peak of the variant as soon as January, people concerned about bringing the virus on their holiday travels want to know how to best protect themselves and their loved ones. That can be especially difficult when it’s cold out and flu activity, while low, is increasing, making it tricky for those who are immunized against the coronavirus to tell a nasty cold from a breakthrough case of covid-19. Still, according to experts, getting the shot and a booster offer the best protection against the worst of the disease caused by the virus.

Why are health officials worried about the flu this year?

While flu season practically vanished last year, experts predict we’ll be in for a rough few months with schools reopened, business resumed and people gathering once again for the holidays. Scientists also say Americans have built up less natural immunity against influenza because so few were infected in 2020. Researchers studying the omicron variant say the symptoms are similar to that of influenza. The double whammy of the flu and the coronavirus comes as more and more people are letting down their guard, including those feeling more at ease since getting their shot.

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