Dr. Mark Joffe, the province's new chief medical officer of health is encouraging Albertans to get their flu shots and take steps to help reduce the spread of influenza.
In a provincial press release, Dr. Joffe said that while winter is historically the peak season for respiratory infections, Alberta like many other jurisdictions, is seeing an early rise in seasonal infections including influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19, and is expecting a severe season. He stated that when looking at predictions of how severe an infection season will be in Canada, Australia is observed as the benchmark.
"This year, Australia had a severe respiratory virus season. In Australia, the highest rates of influenza disease were in children and teenagers, and children under 16 years of age accounted for the majority of influenza hospitalizations. Influenza can also have a severe impact on the elderly," he said.
Although most children, youth and adults recover from the flu without complications, Dr. Joffe underlined that some can get very sick and need to be treated in a hospital.
“We can expect to see similar outcomes in Alberta. Over the last few weeks, Alberta has seen an increase in reports of symptoms such as cough and fever in schools and daycares. We are monitoring the situation in schools closely."
According to the province, the transition back to longstanding practices to manage respiratory infections, in general, is continuing, which included local public health officials notifying schools of outbreaks and giving them advice and support as needed.
“Transmission levels will fluctuate over time and between communities. We encourage Albertans to judge their risk at any point in time and take appropriate precautions."
Dr. Joffe encouraged all Albertans to stay home when feeling sick as well as other precautions.
"Wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask can help reduce the risk of becoming sick and help protect others from being exposed. Albertans should be supported regardless of their choice to mask or not," the provincial press release stated.
Other recommendations are to:
- Make the choice to stay up to date on your vaccinations, and speak to a physician or other care provider if you have questions about options.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Regularly clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Maintain good respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid or limit time spent in crowded indoor places.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items at home, especially when someone in your home is sick.
According to provincial statistics, there are currently 891 cases of influenza in the province. 146 of those cases were admitted to the hospital, while 13 required admission into the intensive care unit. The Edmonton zone has the most cases with 436, followed by the Calgary zone which is reported to have 283. No deaths have been recorded.
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