Winter is here, and that means flu season is too - but this year may be worse than the last.
Medical experts say the virus is taking a toll on the Greater Toronto Area health-care system, with a number of doctors, nurses and administrators at hospitals across the GTA confirming there has been a surge of patients on top of a system that is already operating at or over 100 per cent capacity.
"Influenza A is a little bit higher than it should be, but influenza B is off the charts higher," ER doctor Brett Belchetz told Global News. At some hospitals, the term "pre-pandemic" has even been used.
"When we're over capacity, it's not just a number. People really feel it," says Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Ian Preyra, of @STJOESHAMILTON. Hamilton hospitals over capacity as flu season surges: https://t.co/EuyPxl8bxz #ONhealth #ONpoli— Ontario Medical Assoc. (@OntariosDoctors) January 19, 2018
Public Health Ontario’s flu report states that the number of confirmed flu cases in the province has risen to 1,194 from 861 in just the first two weeks of 2018 alone.
“We are looking at hospitals that are struggling to keep up and now you add in all of those extra patients with the flu… we are in a dangerous situation here,” Belchetz said.
So how do you keep yourself from getting sick? According to the province of Ontario, the flu shot is your best defence. Other tips to avoid getting – and spreading – the virus include washing your hands often, clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, not touching your face, and staying at home when you're sick.
According to Ontario.ca, complications from the flu can include pneumonia, which is a serious illness. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
You can find the nearest location to get a flu shot here.