School, cold and flu season set to return; will COVID-19 follow?

·3 min read

With school starting this week and fall’s cold and flu season on the way, the pandemic and its resultant restrictions might not be a thing of the past, according to the IHA.

An Interior Health Authority media spokesperson said the cases of COVID-19 have never completely abated in Nelson and across the health region, despite the easing of restrictions and the drop in cases at the outset of summer.

“In the fall, when people head back inside, we tend to see more respiratory illnesses circulating in our community,” the IHA media spokesperson said. “We anticipate to see an increase in COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in our communities.”

COVID-19 continues to circulate in all West Kootenay communities, with unconfirmed reports of the emergency room at Kootenay Lake Hospital starting to see increased traffic from the virus.

The IHA monitors COVID-19 based on the severity of illness — which includes the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care — and right now the state of the virus is holding.

“Hospitalizations have been staying stable and at a lower level than what we saw during the height of the Omicron wave earlier this year,” the IHA media relations said in a statement.

Currently, there are 57 people hospitalized in Interior Health, of which eight are in the intensive care units.

As for if and when there will be a return to restrictions once the cases of colds, flus and COVID-19 begin to pile up, the IHA would not confirm the possibility.

“It’s early to speculate on if restrictions will be needed this fall, but we encourage anyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as this will protect individuals and the community,” the IHA stated.

In May B.C. Dr. Bonnie Henry said some were already anticipating what might come with fall weather and the next cold and flu season.

She said the province will be paying attention to what might happen in the fall, and be prepared if there is a surge in cases of the virus.

However, she said it was unlikely for B.C. to see a return to mask mandates, limits on gatherings or other measures the province has brought in previously in the pandemic.

People are encouraged to continue to follow guidelines of staying home when they are feeling ill and washing hands frequently. The IHA has also suggested “staying up-to-date on COVID vaccination (booster dose)” and wearing a mask in indoor crowded spaces.

A new poke

The new bivalent vaccine has just been approved in Canada and will be available this fall.

This vaccine is predicted to have a greater effect on the Omicron variant, which is the dominant variant circulating in all communities and across the West Kootenay.

“We encourage everyone to get their fall booster as soon as they are eligible — six months after their previous dose,” the IHA recommended.

Protection from severe illness related to COVID-19 decreases over time, meaning people who have already had COVID-19 still need to get a booster.

Source: Interior Health Authority

Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily