Nova Scotia’s chief doctor urges holiday caution as province hits peak flu season
Flu season is in full swing earlier than usual across Nova Scotia this year, and the province’s chief medical officer of health is urging the public to exercise caution during the holiday season.
dr Robert Strang said on Friday that he recommends people wear masks in crowded public spaces and when they are ill, given the pressure the province’s medical system is facing.
Flu season, he added, typically lasts eight to 10 weeks, with mid-season hitting in January or February. But the likely highlight of the season is already upon us, Strang said.
“Our healthcare system is under significant strain, so this is an appeal to Nova Scotians,” Strang told reporters. “We all must do what we can to take preventive action.”
Cases of influenza and other illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus contribute to overcrowded emergency rooms and full capacity in hospitals, he said. Even a small number of virus-related hospital admissions is putting a strain on an already stressed hospital system, Strang added.
“We’re dealing with a flood of people and most of them aren’t going to end up in the hospital, but they’re looking for some kind of medical care and they often end up in the emergency room right now,” he said.
To protect against even more illnesses, Strang said anyone who is sick should avoid social gatherings, and he urged people who haven’t had a flu shot yet to get one.
He said children aged six months to four years can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines such as a flu vaccine starting next week. Previously, it was recommended that the recordings be made every two weeks.
The province said Thursday that 686 new cases of influenza A were reported last week and 100 people were hospitalized for the virus, including eight in intensive care.
So far this season, 2,354 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A and one laboratory-confirmed case of influenza B have been reported. Five deaths attributed to influenza A were reported last week, bringing the seasonal death toll to 25.
Strang said influenza in Canada usually moves west to east; Nova Scotia is a few weeks behind other parts of the country in reaching the peak of the virus.
“The hope is that we may be halfway through the season, but regardless of where we are, we know there will be a lot of influenza activity circulating over the next few weeks when social activity is at its highest.” , he said .
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 16, 2022.