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Respiratory illnesses heavily impacting the HKPR community

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: With respiratory viruses, such as Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Influenza, impacting children across the province, as well as COVID-19 remaining active, Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) top doctor recently gave an update on the local impact.

At a virtual press conference, on Wednesday, November 16th, local medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking said, the province is currently facing “multiple respiratory viruses [which] are causing an unprecedented level of illness among children, especially young children.”

“We are seeing a much earlier than usual Influenza season,” Dr. Bocking stated. “We have started with a very dramatic peak already, not just in HKPR but [also] provincially. It’s certainly causing some illness in older age groups, but it is also creating illness in younger age groups. We know younger children can be more vulnerable to severe [symptoms] associated with Influenza.”

This current wave of respiratory illnesses has led many hospitals to postpone elective surgeries and longer wait times in Emergency Departments, as pediatric patients become the biggest priority.

“Similar to what we are seeing across the province, we are seeing a large number of our residents having to go to the Emergency Department for respiratory symptoms, whether that be cough, difficulty breathing, as well as for Influenza-like illness,” Dr. Bocking explained.

Between October 30th and November 12th, the health unit reported 990 resident visits to Emergency Departments for respiratory illnesses. Forty-three percent of those were children between the ages of zero to nine years old.

Earlier this month, Dr. Bocking released a statement strongly urging residents to take precautions to protect the community.

“I support and strongly recommend wearing your mask at indoor public settings, including schools and childcare centres. It’s our children, the very young and vulnerable, [which] require our collective action right now,” Dr. Bocking’s statement read. “Children six months of age and older, pregnant individuals, families and caregivers with young children, healthcare workers, [the] elderly, and those with underlying health conditions should get their flu shot as soon as possible.”

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