As the weather gets colder in Canada, respiratory virus season has arrived, and in addition to the lingering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) virus, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are also circulating. Canadians have learned a lot about how to protect themselves from the disease over the course of the pandemic, but new information released by health-care workers has changed everything from flu shot availability to changes to COVID-19 protocols. It can be useful for decision making.
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the latest news
- B.C. health officials announced this week that a third child under the age of 10 has died after contracting the flu in December. The state previously announced the deaths of two other children from complications related to the flu. However, this week’s Globe and Mail reported that national data on severe influenza-related outcomes in pediatric patients is not available, and this large gap leaves clinicians in the dark. That’s what it means.
- Hospitals across the country are seeing an increase in the number of patients visiting emergency departments or requiring hospitalization due to respiratory virus infections, putting a strain on already strained medical systems.
Flu vaccination clinics and programs are proliferating across the country, and anyone over the age of six months can book an appointment. Find clinics and availability in each state and territory here.
The three approved vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax protect against the XBB.1.5 subvariant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are also sufficient against the related EG.5 family. It should provide protection. The reformulated mRNA shot from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna is approved for people six months and older. The Novavax shot is approved for people 12 years of age and older.
State and territory COVID-19 vaccine information can be found here.
Influenza outlook in Canada
The majority of influenza cases in Canada are influenza A, most of which are of the H1N1 subtype. In the week ending December 30, there were 179 influenza-related hospitalizations, 22 ICU admissions and fewer than five deaths.
PHAC reports that from Aug. 27 to Dec. 30, 2023, there were 297 influenza-related ICU admissions and 69 deaths in Canada. In Canada, the highest cumulative hospitalization rates were for adults aged 65 years and older and children under 5 years old, at 77 per 100,000 and 31 per 100,000, respectively.
Hospitalization due to new coronavirus infection
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 4,627 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the week ending Jan. 2, almost unchanged from 4,625 the previous week.
Current health guidance regarding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary, but commonly include a sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, fatigue or weakness, and muscle or body weakness. pain, new loss of smell or taste, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea. According to Health Canada, symptoms may appear within 1 to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 7 days after exposure.
Health Canada advises you to follow testing guidelines provided by your local public health authority if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If your test result is positive, immediately isolate yourself from others, including your household, and follow the advice of your local public health authorities regarding isolation requirements.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones from respiratory viruses
Respiratory viruses can spread from person to person or through contact with contaminated surfaces, so it’s important to protect yourself from both forms of infection. Recommended by Health Canada Wear a medical mask or respirator, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. If you feel sick, please stay home and limit your contact with others.
What questions, thoughts, or concerns do you have about this year’s respiratory virus season?
The Globe and Mail’s weekday news podcast, The Decibel, wants to help answer your questions about RSV, COVID-19 and the flu this winter.