Manitoba doctors will answer respiratory virus questions in public town hall Tuesday

A pair of high-ranking Manitoba physicians will host a telephone town hall to discuss the care of sick kids amid increased circulation of respiratory viruses.

Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, and Elisabete Doyle, the medical director and section head of pediatric medicine at the Health Sciences Centre Children’s Hospital, will host the town hall.

Starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, they’ll take questions from parents and caregivers about prevention and how to care for kids if they become sick. Those wanting to participate are asked to pre-register for the event.

Respiratory viruses — including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza — have led to an alarming surge in the number of sick kids at the Winnipeg children’s emergency department in recent weeks.

There were 177 patient visits to the emergency department Sunday, with 14 children and youth admitted to Children’s Hospital, according to a statement from a Shared Health spokesperson.

However, most pediatric patients arriving only require treatment on an outpatient basis, the spokesperson wrote.

This is down from 201 visits on Nov. 13, which marked the highest single-day total for the department in several years.

Last November, the emergency department saw an average of 124 patients per day.

The daily average last month was 145.8 patients.

There were eight patients in the pediatric intensive care unit Monday at midnight. The pre-pandemic baseline capacity for that unit is nine staffed beds, according to Shared Health.

The neonatal intensive care unit was caring for 46 patients Monday at midnight. Its normal baseline capacity is 50, the spokesperson wrote.

Shared Health wants to remind parents and guardians that common cold and flu symptoms can be safely managed at home with rest and fluids and by keeping cool with light clothing and cool beverages.

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