Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flu straining hospital ERs

Numbers starting to peak: official

  • Print

A flu outbreak during the past two weeks is putting a strain on Winnipeg hospital emergency departments.

Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer, said Wednesday it looks as though Manitoba is in for a "normal to slightly busier than normal" flu season.

"The numbers have just in the last week or two started to peak," he said.

The province issued a statement Wednesday encouraging Manitobans to get the flu shot as flu cases rose nationally. It said the number of reported laboratory-confirmed cases continues to rise rapidly and has likely not peaked.

"One message I'd like everybody to hear is that if you haven't had your influenza vaccine it's not too late to do that," Routledge said.

Heidi Graham, a spokeswoman for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said traffic at hospital ERs has risen sharply in recent days, with many visitors complaining of flu symptoms.

About 800 patients a day have visited the city's six emergency departments (not including Children's Hospital). At times that number has spiked to close to 1,000 visits. The ERs were seeing an average of 600 patients a day during October and November, Graham said.

"All our hospitals have seen increased activity but the ones that are traditionally the busiest (Health Sciences Centre, Seven Oaks and St. Boniface) remain the busiest," she said in an email.

The flu season appears to have begun earlier this year and is packing a bigger punch across North America than in recent years.

The Canadian Press reported Wednesday hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary struggled to keep up with a spike in cases. Emergency rooms have also been swamped in Montreal and Quebec City. And the city of Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday due to a massive flu outbreak.

In Manitoba, for the week of Dec. 23 to 29, there were 21 cases of influenza A and two cases of influenza B reported, the province said in its bulletin. The vast majority of cases are unreported.

Routledge said the province has confirmed a number of influenza outbreaks at personal care homes -- but so far the situation is not out of normal for a "moderate flu season."

Manitoba is also experiencing a high rate of respiratory syncitial virus, which has added to pressures on hospitals.

Meanwhile, Health Canada is working with Roche Canada and the provincial and territorial health authorities to address a potential temporary shortage of the antiviral flu drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

Tamiflu is an antiviral given to individuals ill with flu or who may come into contact with other people who have confirmed cases of flu. Manitoba has an adequate supply, the province said in a release.

Meanwhile, Graham said the Winnipeg health region is reminding the public that if they feel they need to go to an emergency department, they should, but to remember there are alternatives such as their family physician, the two Winnipeg QuickCare Clinics, Misericordia's Urgent Care and walk-in clinics. If they need advice, they can always call HealthLinks - Info Santé (204-788-8200).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2013 A6


Updated on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:30 AM CST: replaces photos, adds fact box

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Stephen Harper announces increased support for Canadian child protection agencies

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A  young goose stuffed with bread from  St Vital park passers-by takes a nap in the shade Thursday near lunch  –see Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge Day 29-June 28, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google