A hospital specializing in children’s care is overrun, saying they are seeing many different viruses at once.
Dr. Karen Gripp, the medical director at the HSC Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, says while some children are coming to the hospital because of COVID-19 it’s far from the only virus sending them there.
“We’re seeing RSV. We’re seeing influenza. We are seeing some COVID but not as much at the moment. We’re also seeing your gastrointestinal viruses,” Gripp said.
She says two years of limited in-person interactions, distancing, and additional medical precautions made children’s immune systems more susceptible to viruses.
“Pediatrics tends to have a lot of seasonality with viruses and what the pandemic has done is disrupt some of that seasonality.”
The hospital would typically see as many as 150 patients in 24 hours at this time of year. Gripp says the most they’ve ever seen was more than 200 patients.
‘’The fact that we’re seeing numbers in the 180s at the beginning of November makes us quite concerned for what’s coming down the road.”
She is seeing children younger than three the most – but school-aged children are not immune.
Data from the Louis Riel School Division shows more students have been absent this time this year than the year before.
LRSD data shows it is seeing absences rise during the first week of November – in the same time frame absences lowered the year before.
In 2019, the average absence rate in October was 7.6 per cent, jumping to 10.7 per cent in 2022.
Gripp is encouraged to see absences slightly rise, saying “it’s good that parents are taking advice and staying home and keeping their kids home.”
The doctor recommends parents do support care, such as fever management, at home before seeking out a medical clinic or making the trip to the ER. Parents are also being asked to call Health Links if they are uncertain about how to best care for their sick children.
For Remembrance Day ceremonies at school, Gripp recommends physical distancing, washing hands frequently, and considering wearing a mask.
“School and parents should find a balance as we reintroduce important events into our lives,” Gripp said in an email to CTV.
She recommends staying home when sick.
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