Flu Cases in Canada Drop 38% in First Week of January, Data Shows – National | globalnews.ca

Cases of influenza continue to fall in Canada following an early and significant spike several weeks ago in the virus that flooded children’s hospitals across the country and led to the declaration of a flu epidemic.

Flu rates decreased by 38 percent in the first week of 2023, according to federal data released Friday.

This is the second week in a row that flu cases have “significantly decreased” since a mid-November 2022 surge that saw the percentage of positive flu cases in Canada rise to 16%, more than double the seasonal threshold. of 5.0%.

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Flu rates are now below expected pre-pandemic levels, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in its latest FluWatch report.

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“All watch indicators are declining and almost all indicators are within expected levels typical for this time of year.”

In the week of January 1-7, a total of 1,749 influenza laboratory detections were reported to PHAC. The majority of these cases, 77 percent, were caused by a strain of the influenza A virus known as H3N2. The remaining 23 percent were the influenza A strain known as H1N1.

Both strains are included in this year’s influenza vaccine, which also includes two influenza B virus isolates.

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The number of children requiring hospitalization for the flu has also dropped significantly since a spike in childhood flu in Canada that peaked in late November.

The number of children admitted to hospital for flu was down 38 percent in the first week of January compared to the week before. The IMPACT network of 12 pediatric hospitals in Canada reported only 30 influenza-associated hospitalizations during the week ending January 7.

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That represents a significant decrease from the last week of November, when children’s hospitals across Canada reported record numbers of patients due to a surge in flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — a phenomenon that led to long emergency wait times for families.

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The Ottawa CHEO was hit so hard by a surge in patients that the Canadian Red Cross provided volunteers to support the hospital staff.

Children’s flu hospitalizations have dropped 88% since the end of November, according to the latest FluWatch data.

A greater proportion of older people are now infected with the flu, the figures show.

Nearly half of all flu detections in early January were in Canadians 65 and older, up from 40 percent the week before.

More older people are also being hospitalized compared to children under the age of five, suggesting that influenza is returning to pre-pandemic seasonal patterns, according to PHAC data.

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In the meantime, COVID-19 test positivity dipped slightly last week to 15.1% nationwide compared to 15.6% in the last week of December 2222, while RSV now follows seasonal trends nationwide, according to the latest weekly respiratory virus report from PHAC.

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“Compared to pre-pandemic seasons, RSV activity is (at) near-average levels typical for this time of year,” the agency said in its report.

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