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Doctors report surge in flu cases

Flu shot (File photograph)

Influenza cases have jumped, the chief of staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board has confirmed.

Michael Richmond, the Chief of Staff and acting chief executive at the BHB, said that the speed and virulence was a concern.

He added: “This has not been a slow and steady increase.

“We have gone from zero patients with suspected flu complications in the Intensive Care Unit to four confirmed and three suspected cases over just one weekend.”

Dr Richmond said that there had also been an increase in the number of patients with “serious respiratory complications”.

He added: “In order to protect our patients, the community and our staff, we are implementing a flu response action plan that focuses our nursing staff on the response and reduces traffic through the hospital from people who may bring in or take out with them the flu virus.”

A spokeswoman with BHB said last night that non-emergency surgeries had been postponed “in anticipation of further admissions”.

She said that two surgeries had been postponed yesterday.

The spokeswoman added: “We will review the status each day to decide on our ability to undertake elective, non-emergency surgeries.”

She said that emergency and critical surgeries would continue as scheduled.

The spokeswoman said that BHB had also requested a maximum of two visitors per patient per day in all areas of the hospital, including long-term care.

She explained: “The incidence of flu to date has come from the community, and has not occurred in hospital.

“We need to reduce further exposure of other visitors and patients.”

The spokeswoman said that all visitors would also be expected to wear masks in the Intensive Care Unit and to wash their hands before and after seeing a patient.

She added that persons with outpatient appointments at the hospital who believe they may have the flu should call to reschedule.

The spokeswoman also encouraged members of the public to get vaccinated.

She said: “The flu season still has a few month to run.

“It is the most effective way to reduce your chances of getting the flu.”

The update comes after the health ministry issued a warning yesterday after a spike in the number of flu cases.

The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said January was usually the peak of the flu season in Bermuda and a yearly shot was recommended as the first step in protection.

It added that anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay at home until at least 24 hours after the end of fever.

The Ministry of Health recommends flu vaccinations for everyone aged six months or older as flu viruses will continue to circulate through the spring.

Healthcare workers, teachers, essential service workers and pregnant women are priority groups for receiving the flu shot.

Seasonal flu vaccination is available at doctors’ surgeries or from the Department of Health at a cost of $10, or free for people aged 65 years and older.

The shots are available at Hamilton Health Centre on the city’s Victoria Street.

The health centre is open from 8.30am to 11.30am, Monday to Friday, and 2pm to 4pm on Wednesday afternoons.