Hospital pediatric wards are being overwhelmed by a surge in the number of children four and under getting severely ill with influenza and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus).
“It’s not just COVID-19 anymore. We are dealing with a complexity of COVID-19, influenza and RSV and I’m very concerned that children are being admitted to our hospitals, in our intensive care units, principally four and under that cannot mask. So everyone around them—the parent, the sibling, the grandparent—I’m encouraging them to protect the most vulnerable of us, our children, by adhering to all the layers of protection. What might be a cold to you can lead to a severe respiratory infection in a child four and under,” said Dr. Chris Simpson, executive vice-president (Medical) at Ontario Health at a news conference this morning.
He urged family members experiencing respiratory issues to mask around young children in order to protect them as well as Ontario’s health care system, which is facing “extraordinary pressures” due to COVID-19, and an early rise of influenza and RSV.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario chief medical officer of health, said the system is at capacity and health officials are looking at ways of building more capacity across Ontario. “If that capacity is threatened, that is when we’ll be advising further to government,” he said referring to implementing restrictions to try and curb the rise in illnesses. “At present, we’re at 100 per cent (capacity) and the call is across Ontario to protect our children and the most vulnerable,” he added.
He asked Ontarians to sanitize, wear masks and ensure their vaccines are up to date.
Health officials have been predicting a resurgence of respiratory illnesses this fall and winter. “The difficult and complex fall that was predicted has materialized,” said Moore, adding that health resources will need to be reallocated.
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