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Winnipeg’s children’s hospital sees worst RSV season in 3 years, but patient volumes improving

More kids have ended up at the children’s hospital in Winnipeg with RSV-related illness so far this winter than the past three years combined, according to data from Shared Health.

Over the past three and a half months the children’s hospital at Health Sciences Centre has seen 261 admissions — including 41 in the first 13 days of January, officials said Thursday.

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By comparison, the respiratory virus season of 2019/20 — the last before the COVID-19 pandemic– saw 176 RSV-related admissions over a four-month period ending in January.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021, the children’s hospital saw just one RSV case, and there were a total of 42 kids admitted with RSV last winter.

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Children’s Hospital update

The latest admissions include 25 newborns, infants and toddlers hospitalized last week, including six who required intensive care, Shared Health said.

While officials said the ongoing surge in cases means elective pediatric surgeries are still being postponed, there are signs things may be improving.

Shared Health said Thursday the children’s hospital’s pediatric ICU (PICU) has been operating at normal levels in recent days.

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They said there were eight pediatric patients in intensive care Thursday morning, one less than the PICU’s normal baseline capacity of nine.

The neonatal ICU (NICU), which has a normal capacity of 50 children, had 40 beds filled as of Thursday morning, officials said.

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There’s also been a drop in patient volumes at the children’s ER, which is averaging 118 children per day this month, down from the December average of 130.1 and 170.3 reported in November.

Click to play video: 'Influenza hits Manitoba family hard in harrowing experience'

Influenza hits Manitoba family hard in harrowing experience

But Shared Health said a plan announced in mid-December that’s seen staff moved and elective pediatric surgeries postponed will continue “as more time is needed to determine whether improved numbers are a trend or momentary blip.”

Meanwhile, officials said pediatric surgical capacity ran at between 80 and 90 per cent of normal levels most days last week.

Three surgeries that were postponed last week were all due to patient illness, according to Shared Health.

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Health officials are continuing to “strongly encourage” Manitobans to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19, warning parents children younger than two years of age are most at risk of contracting severe RSV.

They’re also reminding Manitobans to stay home when sick, wash their hands regularly, and wear masks when out in large crowds.

More information about vaccines, including a list of places where shots are available, can be found on the province’s website.

Click to play video: 'Elective surgeries postponed at Winnipeg’s children’s hospital as patient surge continues'

Elective surgeries postponed at Winnipeg’s children’s hospital as patient surge continues

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