Visiting family for the holidays? How to stay safe amid rising COVID, flu and RSV cases 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as compared to previous years when COVID-19 lock downs limited or cancelled quality in-person time with loved ones. However, with viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu thrown in the mix with COVID, health experts are urging everyone to take protective measures amidst the festivities.

“I really hope everyone enjoys a wonderful and relaxing holiday season, but we should also be mindful that there are lots of viruses circulating and there are steps that we can take to reduce the risk of infection,” Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told Global News on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the Pan American Health Organization said on its website that all of the Americas, are experiencing a “triple threat” of respiratory illnesses caused by COVID-19, RSV, and influenza that should have all countries on “alert.”

This wave of illness due to COVID-19, RSV and influenza is causing significant strain on hospitals across the continent as shown by the recent weekly influenza report, especially pediatric emergency departments, some of which have been forced to cancel non-urgent surgeries.

Health experts and public health officials are continually urging everyone to stay up to date with their vaccinations and putting on masks as required.

“People are going to be traveling over the course of the holiday season… and I think it’s totally reasonable to put on a mask if you’re on a plane or a bus or in an indoor public setting to reduce your risk of getting infected and, of course, to reduce your risk of transmitting infections to others,” said Bogoch.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is also urging Canadians to take key protective measures like frequent hand-washing, wearing a well-fitted face mask, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if feeling unwell.

As long as influenza RSV, COVID, and other respiratory viruses continue to co-circulate at a high level, there is an increased likelihood that we will encounter one or more of these viruses as we interact with others in schools, workplaces and social settings, especially indoors,” Dr. Tam said while addressing reporters during a public health update on Friday.

“And if masks are not being worn, for the time being, it makes sense to dial up a vaccine plus practices to increase our level of protection, particularly in light of our extremely stretched health systems,” she added.

Story culled from Global News. Click on this link for the full story


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