Respiratory illness ‘potential wave is upon us,’ says Well being PEI

Because the rise in respiratory sicknesses amongst younger folks outpaces hospitals in another components of the nation, Well being PEI says it is beginning to see indicators of that pattern right here.

Whereas total visits to the Island’s emergency division elevated solely barely this fall in comparison with final, there was a big bounce in visits by Islanders below the age of 18.

To this point in November, Prince County Hospital in Summerside has seen 34 p.c extra sufferers in that age group. There was a 17 p.c bounce at Charlottetown’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

PEI Well being suspects the truth that COVID-19, influenza and RSV are all circulating on the identical time is the primary motive for the rise.

“We all know that that is our first respiration season [since the start of the pandemic] that we do not have widespread masks in public. And influenza is right here sooner than standard,” mentioned Corinne Rowswell, chief working officer of Well being PEI.

‘It will worsen earlier than it will get higher’

At a press convention in Halifax Thursday, the top of pediatrics on the IWK Well being Heart – a Maritime specialty youngsters’s hospital – warned that the following few months might be difficult.

“Based mostly on what’s taking place now in Ontario and Quebec, within the youngsters’s hospitals there, they’ve the complete power of influenza on them. We simply began seeing it within the final week or so right here. So it should worsen earlier than it will get higher. That is our concern,” mentioned Dr Andrew Lynk.

Dr Andrew Lynk, chairman and chief of pediatrics on the IWK Well being Centre, spoke at a press convention in Halifax Thursday. He fears the scenario will solely ‘worsen earlier than it will get higher.’ (CBC)

Rowswell mentioned PEI has not seen a rise in admissions to both of its pediatric items at QEH or PCH.

However with workers and assets “stretched skinny” throughout the province, and lengthy affected person waits in emergency departments, he worries concerning the weeks forward.

“After all we fear, each time we’ve this wave probably coming our manner,” Rowswell mentioned. “The worst-case state of affairs is that we’ve steady service disruptions as a result of we’ve sick workers, or we’ve too many sufferers coming into our services.”

Meaning canceling scheduled procedures or surgical procedures, he mentioned, as is occurring at hospitals worst hit by the surge in respiratory sicknesses.

A name for masks is obligatory

This can be a pattern that has led some medical consultants in different areas to publicly name for the obligatory masks rule to be reinstated. Rowswell mentioned a number of PEI Well being workers have requested the identical right here.

“We’ve got heard from workers who really feel obligatory masks ought to be reinstated, however at this level, it has not been communicated from the top of the general public well being workplace that that might be referred to as for,” Rowswell mentioned.

PEI Chief Public Well being Officer Dr. Heather Morrison, encourages Islanders to put on masks, particularly after they have chilly or flu signs, or are recovering from an sickness.

He additionally pressured the significance of staying dwelling when you’re sick, and getting vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 and influenza.

A woman in a blazer sits in front of a desk with two large computer monitors in the background.
Corinne Rowswell, chief working officer of Well being PEI, mentioned she is discouraged by the low vaccine uptake among the many Island’s youth, and that getting vaccinated and following different public well being recommendation is one of the simplest ways to guard the well being care system. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Rowswell mentioned if Islanders need to decrease the influence of this wave of respiratory illness on the well being care system, heeding that recommendation is important.

“I believe folks is likely to be complacent. They exit and about after they have signs as a result of it is not COVID-19,” he mentioned. “However it might be influenza that may be simply as harmful for sure people who find themselves immunocompromised or who’re very younger.”

Rowswell mentioned he was notably discouraged by the comparatively low uptake of vaccines amongst youngsters. Solely 10 p.c of Islanders below the age of 5 have obtained a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I strongly encourage our mother and father to verify their youngsters are vaccinated,” he mentioned. “The vaccine works, and it is not encouraging when you’ve gotten it and the uptake is not there.”

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