Manitoba health officials warning of challenging cold and flu season
As the fourth wave of COVID-19 officially hits Manitoba, public health officials are warning of a challenging cold and flu season.
According to Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, staying home when sick is an important tool -- especially now as respiratory illness season is here.
"As we continue our interactions, we're very likely to see a resurgence of other typical respiratory pathogens," he said at a news conference on Monday.
Roussin said rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, is circulating right now in Manitoba, noting other viruses that could show up are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Medical microbiologist Dr. Philippe Lagacé -Wiens said the age group of concern for RSV is children under two
"We're now dealing with the situation where it’s been two years since we've seen RSV,” Lagacé-Wiens said.
“So you've got this whole group of kids that are under two years of age that are typically most susceptible to this virus who have never seen it."
Lagacé-Wiens said there are a few other viruses he's watching-- all of which are difficult to tell apart from COVID-19 just through symptoms.
"(It’s) best to follow those guidance documents from public health,” he said.
“If you've got two of these symptoms, you should get tested. If you only have one, keep a watchful eye, and once they're completely healthy for 24 hours, you can send them back to work or school."
Health officials know taking time off work or school can be a big burden. However, it is important to do if you’re feeling sick.
“Our health-care system is under strain, whatever we can do to minimize the transmission of any of these respiratory viruses is in all of our best interest,” Roussin said.
Tory McNally, who works as a director of human resources, said accommodating time off in the workplace due to COVID-19 is the new normal.
"As long as Manitoba Health can keep up with testing results, the economy can keep chugging,” McNally said.
”But, if we're back to those lag times of four and five days, then that’s where we'll see the problematic outcomes."
Right now, Roussin said test turnaround times are under the target of 48 hours, and as volumes go up, work is happening to hold it there.
Other fundamentals to follow this time of year, according to Roussin, are hand-washing and mask-wearing, as well as getting both the influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Roussin noted sampling is being done for some respiratory viruses, including rhinovirus, but most symptomatic tests are for COVID-19.