Child’s death linked to flu in Manitoba, officials say

Manitoba is reporting the first death of a child linked to influenza this flu season.

The child is between the age of five and 17, according to this week’s respiratory surveillance report, and is among five flu deaths reported between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3.

Read more: Manitoba reports 8 COVID-19 deaths, 5 flu deaths in weekly respiratory report

Twelve Manitobans have died of influenza since the start of this year’s flu season, July 3.

According to Friday’s report, 120 new cases of Influenza A were reported between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, down from 207 cases reported in the previous week’s update.

Click to play video: 'Tips to navigate cold and flu season'

Tips to navigate cold and flu season

However, health officials say an influx of influenza lab reports has backed up testing, leaving the province unable to provide an accurate picture of how many new cases are currently being reported.

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Health officials have been warning Manitobans to get their flu shots to prevent the spread of influenza, which can be more severe for children and the elderly.

Read more: Strain on Winnipeg children’s hospital has dropped, but officials say concerns remain

An earlier-than-expected start to this year’s flu season, combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and spread of other respiratory viruses like RSV, has been putting a strain on hospitals this fall, especially the children’s emergency department in Winnipeg.

Last month, the children’s ER at Health Sciences Centre reported “unprecedented” patient levels, with the department averaging 170 patient visits a day.

Click to play video: 'Strain on Winnipeg children’s hospital has dropped, but officials say concerns remain'

Strain on Winnipeg children’s hospital has dropped, but officials say concerns remain

While the numbers have fallen — officials say the children’s ER is averaging 143 kids a day so far in December — they warn patient volumes “remain elevated” and are expected to get worse.

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“High numbers of patients experiencing flu-like symptoms continue to arrive in the ED on a daily basis,” a Shared Health spokesperson said Friday.

Read more: Manitoba expands COVID vaccine eligibility to include kids four and under

“Numbers will ebb and flow from day to day and higher patient volumes are expected in the coming days and weeks, as the start of winter is traditionally when respiratory virus season peaks.”

As well as getting vaccinated, health officials are recommending Manitobans regularly wash their hands and clean high-touch surfaces, wear masks in large crowds, avoid sharing drinks and face towels, and stay home when sick.

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Absence rates surge in Winnipeg schools as students, teachers struggle with sickness

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