Twelve more New Brunswickers died from the flu during the first week of January, raising the death toll so far this season to 59, according to the latest influenza report.
Last season, five people died. Pre-pandemic, during the 2018-19 flu season, 36 people died
Thirty people were admitted to hospital between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7.
That brings the total number of hospitalizations to 851 since the season began on Aug 28, compared to 92 all of last season. The pre-pandemic 2018-19 seasonal total was 619.
No details about the New Brunswickers who died or were hospitalized, such as their ages or any underlying health conditions, are provided in the online report.
The Department of Health did not respond Wednesday to a request for information about if or how many of the latest deaths and hospitalizations involve infants, children or youths.
Activity continues to decrease
A total of 108 new cases of the flu have been confirmed by a lab — nine influenza A(H3) viruses, and 99 influenza A (unsubtyped), the report shows.
The actual number of flu cases in New Brunswick is likely much higher since most people don't get tested for the flu. They simply stay home.
Still, "influenza activity continued to decrease" during the week in question, the report says.
Activity has now dropped to "sporadic" — the second-lowest of four levels — in all but one health region. The Moncton region, Zone 1, is still listed as having "localized activity."
Localized activity is defined as "evidence of increased [influenza-like illness] with lab-confirmed influenza detection(s) and outbreaks in schools, hospitals, residential institutions and/or other types of facilities occurring in less than 50 per cent of the influenza surveillance region."
Sporadic activity is defined as sporadically occurring influenza-like illnesses and lab-confirmed cases with no outbreaks detected within the region.
The regional breakdown of the 108 confirmed cases is:
Moncton region, Zone 1 — 25.
Saint John region, Zone 2 — 15.
Fredericton region, Zone 3 — nine.
Edmundston region, Zone 4 — 19.
Campbellton region, Zone 5 — 10.
Bathurst region, Zone 6 — 25.
Miramichi region, Zone 7 — five.
Since the beginning of the season, 4,253 cases of the flu have been lab-confirmed.
No new lab-confirmed flu outbreaks have been reported in nursing homes or other long-term care settings, compared to eight during the previous two weeks, the report shows.
No new influenza-like illness outbreaks in schools have been reported either, although schools were closed for the holidays. There were five school outbreaks reported during the previous two weeks.
So far this season, 35 influenza outbreaks have been reported in nursing homes and similar settings, and 211 influenza-like illness outbreaks have been reported in schools.