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Influenza confirmed in Prince Rupert, but it is not coronavirus

The Northern View - 1/29/2020

Northern Health confirmed on Jan. 28, that there have been laboratory verified cases of influenza at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital (PRRH), affecting the acute care wing (third floor). They are stressing to residents of British Columbia that the outbreak is not related to coronavirus.

"We want to be immediately and abundantly clear that patients are not being sent away. On-going care for admitted patients is not affected in any way," Eryn Collins, manager of media relations for Northern Health, said.

"The threshold for declaring an outbreak is not high, "said Collins. "It is purposefully not high, so we can control any outbreak early."

There have been a number of additional precautions and measures put in place to bring the outbreak to an end in the facility. Northern Health is temporarily postponing elective and non-urgent patients and procedures. The hospital is contacting patients like expectant mothers, through care providers, to have them reschedule some booked appointments.

The maternity unit shares the third floor with the acute care unit, where the confirmed cases of influenza are. Out of an abundance of caution, maternity patients may wish to consider delivery options elsewhere.

"The big point is the hospital is still available to the community," Collins said. "Northern Health is continuing to manage the outbreak with all the infection control procedures in place."

Northern Health said it is not possible to say how long it will be before the outbreak is over. There is a six day period required, without any new cases being reported, for an outbreak to be declared over.

People who may have the flu or gastrointestinal issues are advised by Northern Health to make sure they are feeling well before visiting those in health care facilities. Patients who are already ill are more susceptible to infection, like those with compromised immune systems and small children who can't be immunized.

"It can be quite serious for people with vulnerabilities," Collins said. "It's flu season. Get a flu shot. Stay home if you are unwell in order to not be spreading the virus."


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