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Manitoba advises preventive measures as flu season begins amid health-care recovery

Flu and cold season is well underway in Manitoba and as the province still grapples with a struggling health-care system, experts are urging people to try and reduce transmission.

“Washing our hands, physically distancing as we’re able, staying home when we’re sick — those are all things that we can do to help take care of ourselves and take care of each other,” Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara said.

And unfortunately, experts say COVID-19 is still very much around and people should be taking precautions as it spreads.

Numbers released by the province Friday show that 44 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 last week, three of whom required intensive care.

Cases of the virus have been relatively stable over the past few weeks but Natalie Knox with the National Microbiology Lab says that’s likely to change soon.

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“Generally, people tend to shed the virus before they start to really get very sick and show up at the hospitals. That’s why the wastewater signal can really be sort of a great forewarning for what’s going to happen in our community,” Knox said.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba top doctor urges vaccination as flu and virus season nears'

Manitoba top doctor urges vaccination as flu and virus season nears

Winnipeg and Brandon monitor their wastewater for COVID-19, and while levels are still moderate, they are increasing.

“We need to take steps to be able to respond to additional pressures on the health-care system. And we know that there are some challenges in our emergency departments and urgent care,” Uzoma said.

After lifting the mask mandate in May this year the province re-introduced the mandate for health-care workers in hospitals, personal care homes and other health-care facilities on Oct. 18.

However, when it comes to mandating the public to wear masks again, Uzoma says that isn’t something that is being explored at this time.

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Vaccinations for both COVID-19 and the flu are available at various pharmacies.

About three-quarters of Manitobans have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but Ryan Chan with the Exchange District Pharmacy says there’s plenty of demand for boosters and flu shots alike.

“After six months, the protection you had from the vaccine kind of wears off so that’s where the booster comes in, to boost your immune system,” Chan said.

If Manitobans so choose, they can get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shots at the same time by booking an appointment at a pharmacy or clinic close to them.

— with files from Global’s Iris Dyck

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