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VANCOUVER — The BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver says it’s triaging less serious patients from its emergency department to a nearby area due to a surge of people with respiratory illnesses.

Christy Hay, the hospital’s executive director of clinical operations, says the department is mostly seeing viral illnesses including COVID-19 and an increasing number of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus cases, or RSV.

She says in an email that the increase in RSV and flu is expected based on trends in other parts of Canada and around the world.

Hay says moving patients to a nearby area is something the hospital has done in the past to manage high patient volumes during the flu season, including when H1N1 first arrived.

She says staff at the hospital are all working as fast as they can.

Hay says to help the hospital manage people should get all recommended vaccines, stay home if they feel unwell, wear a mask in indoor public places, and clean their hands regularly.

“We are grateful to our staff for taking quick action, and mobilizing this service so fast, especially during such a challenging time,” Hay said Wednesday night. 

“We appreciate how stressful a visit to the emergency department may be for people, but please be kind and respectful to staff and care providers.”

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix could not be reached for comment.

Last week Dix said 1.2 million B.C. residents had already received a flu shot this year, twice as many as last year.

He said the province was opening more hospital beds in preparation for the flu season, but the situation wasn’t as desperate as in other provinces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2022 

The Canadian Press

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