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Kawartha Lakes health unit looks ahead to the autumn illness season

DAN CEARNS The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: With the autumn season now here, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) medical officer of health told health unit members what to expect during this season, in terms of illnesses.

The address was made by Dr. Natalie Bocking, during a health unit board meeting, held on Thursday, September 21st.

“In general, we’re preparing folks for what’s considered to be another atypical respiratory season. Atypical is in comparison to pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, every year had an expected course for the season. Atypical means we’re expecting flu season to hit early again. We’re expecting there to be some COVID-19, and we’re expecting some other respiratory viruses to be somewhat higher than what we saw pre-pandemic,” Dr. Bocking explained.

She described the Influenza season in 2022 as “fairly intense.”

“Last year it happened earlier and peaked earlier, which had a number of implications for our health sector partners,” Dr. Bocking said.

The health unit looks at what is happening in the Southern Hemisphere of the world, to get a relative gauge on what to expect for community Influenza season.

“In terms of what Australia and New Zealand have experienced, Influenza cases are not quite as high as last year, [but] higher than previous seasons. Deaths associated with Influenza are less than last year, but hospital admissions are still quite high. As high as last year or higher, particularly among children,” Dr. Bocking stated.

In terms of COVID-19, Dr. Bocking noted, there is starting to be an increase in wastewater surveillance data, province wide, but so far the health unit hasn’t seen a large increase locally.

“We’re anticipating for that to increase,” she added. “We know it continues to mutate, it continues to change. There’s a number of new, what we’re calling, recombinant variants. Recombinant just means, it is a couple of different variants [which] have mutated together to form a new variant.”

However, she said, the new variants are not causing more severe illness than during the emergence of Omicron.

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