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More children admitted for respiratory illnesses

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Two children in pediatric intensive care are being tested for H1N1 as Winnipeg emergency rooms continue to see a large number of children with respiratory illness.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokeswoman Heidi Graham said there are eight children on ventilators in pediatric intensive care, including two children who are being tested for severe H1N1. The number of children presenting to emergency with respiratory symptoms is up more than 30 per cent.

Graham said 170 people went to children's emergency on Sunday -- up from the average 110 patient visits on a typical day.

More than half of children who have gone to the ER have respiratory symptoms.

"We've recognized the number of visits to emergency departments are increasing," Graham said. "They're up everywhere, (but) mostly at Children's (Hospital)."

Last week, health officials asked Manitobans to avoid any unnecessary visits to emergency rooms that could soon fill up with people sick with flu. Health officials expect the number of people sick with H1N1 to increase in the coming weeks as the second wave of influenza enters its peak.

As of last Wednesday -- the latest numbers available from officials -- 20 people have been hospitalized for severe respiratory illness, including one lab-confirmed case of severe H1N1. Health officials expect most, if not all, of the severe cases will turn out to be H1N1.

The first suspected flu death this season is under review, but no details about the person's age or gender have been made public.

The increased pressure on emergency rooms has prompted city health officials to try to move hospital patients to personal care homes to free up beds.

Graham said that will allow hospital staff to move people out of emergency onto the wards faster -- the same thing officials did when hospitals started to fill up with sick flu patients last spring.

To date, more than 100,000 Winnipeggers have been vaccinated against H1N1. Health officials hope mass vaccinations could shorten the severity and duration of the second wave of H1N1.

Flu clinics are closed due to a dwindling vaccine supply, but are slated to reopen Thursday morning after Manitoba receives its next shipment.

During the peak of the first wave of H1N1, 38 people were on ventilators in city hospitals and health officials shifted surgeries around to deal with the increased demand for beds.



37 schools report high absenteeism

MANITOBA had 37 public schools reporting higher than usual absences as of noon Monday, the first time high absenteeism exceeded 30 schools since mandatory reporting began a month ago.

The 37 schools were spread across 18 divisions, all but three of them rural.

Three city schools in River East Transcona S.D. reported higher than usual levels Monday: John Pritchard, John W. Gunn and Lord Wolseley.

Lakeshore and Turtle River school divisions have consistently reported unusual absence levels since the department of education told divisions a month ago to post daily school-by-school absence reports on their websites.

The province has noted higher than usual absence levels are not necessarily flu-related.

Manitoba Health says it will not identify the community or institutions in which confirmed H1N1 cases occur, unless there is a compelling public health reason to do so.


-- Staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2009 A8

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