EOHU reports surge of respiratory illnesses

Christopher Smith
EOHU reports surge of respiratory illnesses

During a virtual briefing, the EOHU’s top doctor urged residents of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) to stay vigilant and protect themselves against a significant rise in multiple respiratory viruses spreading through the community.

According to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), the region is experiencing an increase in COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as the holidays approach. COVID-19 activity in Eastern Ontario peaked in November, coinciding with the release of the newest COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. There are currently three outbreaks of COVID-19 in UCPR long-term care homes, with 11 staff members and 40 residents infected. There are an additional 16 cases in local hospitals, and two in intensive care units. Five people died from COVID-19 in November, and three have died of it in December so far.

The EOHU is urging residents to get their shots as soon as possible. Both are available through pharmacies or the EOHU by appointment, and they’re safe to get together. The updated COVID-19 vaccine protects against XBB.1.5. Omicron and other sub-variants circulating in the community.

“Vaccines can take up to two weeks to provide strong protection, so it is important you get your vaccines as soon as possible, to help protect you through all your upcoming gatherings,” said Roumeliotis. “Getting your vaccines can prevent severe illness and help relieve the burden on our hospitals and healthcare system, and ensure everyone has a safe and healthy holiday season.”

For general daily protection from respiratory and other illnesses, the EOHU recommends adopting some simple habits to avoid the spread of germs. These include frequently washing hands with soap and water, sneezing into your elbow, avoiding touching your face area, disinfecting high-traffic surfaces such as door handles and counters, using an air purifier, wearing a mask in crowded areas, and staying home when experiencing symptoms.

The EOHU offers COVID-19 vaccine appointments to everyone by booking on https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ or through the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. It also offers the flu vaccine to children under five years old and their household members through https://booking.eohu.ca/. Otherwise, the flu vaccine is available through local pharmacies.

Anti-viral medications are also available for the immunocompromised and others at high risk for complications from respiratory illnesses. Speak to a healthcare provider or visit http://www.EOHU.ca/Respiratory for more information.

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