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Respiratory viruses on the rise in Ottawa as flu season peaks

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is warning that respiratory viruses are on the rise in Ottawa and increasing numbers of people are being admitted to hospital.

According to the latest numbers on OPH's seasonal respiratory health dashboard, levels of COVID-19 and RSV in the community remain high. Influenza levels are also high and increasing.

"Influenza is still to rise and the burden on our hospitals is real," said Ottawa medical officer of health Vera Etches to CTV News Ottawa on Friday.

"People probably already notice that people around them are getting these viruses."

The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) says they are currently seeing a spike of influenza as admissions push the hospital beyond capacity

"We’re over capacity right now," said Terry Varshney, a pediatric emergency physician at CHEO.

"We will hospitalize any child that needs to be hospitalized, we are not going to compromise on the care that we are going to give, but our beds are tight."

Last year, the Red Cross was called in to help hospital staff, but CHEO says that likely won’t happen this year after having received more funding and hired more staff.

While medical experts say washing hands and staying home when sick are important, the best form of protection is immunization.

"Get your child vaccinated and get your vulnerable family members vaccinated to at least try to decrease the intensity of the infection," said Varshney.

Vaccines can be found at participating pharmacies, along with local community clinics and neighbourhood health and wellness hubs.

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