Manitoba not reporting flu data as health-care system reports more respiratory illnesses

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the country is in the midst of an influenza epidemic, but the province is Manitoba isn’t reporting current flu data.

Manitoba is one of two provinces not reporting flu data, the other being British Columbia.

Although data isn’t being shared, Doctors Manitoba said physicians are seeing increased cases of RSV, Influenza A and Influenza B.

“We’re just seeing an uptick in respiratory viruses, respiratory illnesses coming in and a lot of people are testing negative for COVID,” said Candace Bradshaw, the president of Doctors Manitoba.

The province said in a statement to CTV News Winnipeg that routine reporting will be happening, “in the coming weeks.”

“We are probably in the middle of a significant spike, but we aren’t sure. Without data, I can’t say for sure. I just know what I’m seeing in my office and I know what’s keeping me very busy and my physician colleagues,” said Bradshaw.

What doctors are dealing with is being reflected in the classroom. The Louis Riel School Division said it’s seeing overall absences as high as 19.2 per cent as of Monday.

While the school division doesn’t track the reason for absences, it says the situation is being closely monitored.

“If there is concern about absences in a given school it will seek additional guidance from public health,” the school division said in a statement.

Bradshaw said she thinks there will still be several weeks of this influenza season and is encouraging Manitobans to try and manage flu symptoms at home as much as possible.

However, this advice might be hard to follow through on as Pharmacists Manitoba says pharmacies are low on children’s Tylenol and Advil, amoxicillin and other prescription antibiotics.

“Certainly, a lot of concern and frustration about it. Some people are aware of the shortage or are hunting around from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for products. Other people have been quite surprised to find that these products aren’t available on the shelves,” said Tim Smith, a pharmacy practice advisor with Pharmacists Manitoba.

Smith recommends that people who need over-the-counter medication talk with pharmacists who may be able to provide alternatives.

“I would say drug shortages are becoming an increasing reality of our health-care system.”

Bradshaw said she thinks all Manitobans need to step up and wear a mask more than they usually would, be smart and get vaccinated.

She is also encouraging people to seek medical care if they are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain or an unmanageable fever.

Meanwhile, HSC Children’s Hospital continues to be dealing with high patient volumes. Shared Health said there were 198 patients in the ER on Monday and 116 of those were high to mid-acuity patients.

It adds that respiratory illness is contributing to the ER demand.

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