respiratory illness starting to increase in b.c., as covid-19 cases level off, say health officials

cases of rsv and influenza are increasing so now is a good time to get vaccinated, says dr. bonnie henry, b.c.'s provincial health officer.

respiratory illness increasing in b.c., as covid cases level off
file photo of dr. bonnie henry getting vaccinated against covid-19. province of b.c. handout / province of b.c. handout
health officials are encouraging anyone who hasn’t had their flu and covid-19 jabs to do so soon, as cases of respiratory illness like flu and respiratory syncytial virus have started to rise in b.c.

more than a million doses of flu vaccine and 847,000 doses of covid-19 vaccines have been administered since b.c. began its respiratory illness season and immunization campaign about a month ago, dr. bonnie henry, b.c.’s provincial health officer, said friday.

“w e continue to encourage everybody in british columbia who’s eligible to get those vaccines and to get them at the same time,” said henry at a news conference with health minister adrian dix friday. 

henry said there was an early peak of covid-19, but that has levelled off and started to come down. however the number of influenza cases is starting to creep up.
officials have been testing wastewater for rsv and the two main types of flu — influenza a and b — and they are starting to see an increase in influenza a and rsv in the lower mainland.
“that’s a harbinger that we may be seeing more illness in the community in the next few weeks,” said henry, adding this is what they expected for this time of year.
“last year, we saw that rapid increase in both rsv and influenza quite early in the season and we came to a very high peak in november. we’re seeing a more normal pattern or a similar pattern of what we saw before the pandemic right now.”



dix said health authorities have confirmed that they are prepared for an increased demand of respiratory illness this winter season.
“you’ll recall last year, demand went up in our hospitals. the peak of demand was 10,260 on or around jan. 6 … so we are still going to see a rising level of demand for in-patient acute care in our hospitals,” he said. dix echoed henry in calling on b.c. residents to get vaccinated to keep the number of hospitalizations down.

dix acknowledged that booking a vaccine may be a challenge in some b.c. communities. he advised people keep trying to book because they continue to add more appointments every day to the system.

people who are registered in the provincial get vaccinated system automatically receive notification to book their influenza and covid-19 immunization online when they become due. those who are not registered yet are encouraged to do so by visiting:

meantime friday, vancouver island health declared a covid-19 the outbreak at the centre unit of saanich peninsula hospital, with 15 patients infected and all experiencing mild illness.

despite the outbreak, n ew data suggest that a recent surge in covid-19 activity in b.c. is waning, with the number of hospital admissions, deaths and positive tests all down sharply.



an update released by the b.c. centre for disease control thursday says there were 144 new covid hospitalizations in the week ending nov. 4, fewer than half the 296 hospitalizations three weeks earlier.
among those tested for covid-19 under the province’s medical services plan, positive tests dropped to 15.8 per cent, compared with a peak of 23.4 per cent five weeks earlier.
there were 36 deaths among people with covid-19 last week, down from a peak of 70 two weeks earlier, although the centre for disease control cautions the information in both weeks is preliminary and says deaths “remain relatively stable.”
henry said she’s not surprised there are outbreaks despite the number of covid-19 cases going down because it’s still in the community and hospitals are settings where the illness can be transmitted quite rapidly.
“thankfully with covid now, because so many people are vaccinated and because our health care system is well protected through vaccination, we’re seeing mostly mild illnesses in these outbreaks,” said henry.
—with files from the canadian press


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