Respiratory Viruses in Children: A Call for Caution for the Holidays

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Respiratory viruses in children: a call for caution for the holidays

Due to high traffic, two children with the same virus must sometimes be placed in the same room.

The situation remains critical in several hospitals and pediatric care units in the Quebec region. At the pediatric unit of the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, the occupancy rate reached 150%. A situation considered worrying as the holidays approach.

Influenza, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Children are particularly affected by the current wave of infections. Dr. Élyse Berger-Pelletier, emergency physician at Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, reminds us that COVID babies have not been exposed to many viruses, so children can catch several at the same time. /p>

For the emergency physician, it is clear that contamination must be reduced, particularly with the arrival of the holidays and influenza, which is slowly beginning its winter season.

The emergency physician Élyse Berger-Pelletier (archives).

Obviously, we want their immune system to work out quietly. […] People want social relationships, I understand that very well. But on the other hand, there is an overload, both in the health network which is out of breath, but also for all the families currently living with someone who is sick.

In his view, public health should consider measures to limit the spread. Without going towards confinement, she suggests, among other things, that employers and schools be more flexible and encourage people to stay at home if they have a cold.

“As soon as you are sick, [you have to] stay at home, even if the COVID test is negative. Currently, COVID is one virus among many others. »

— Dr. Élyse Berger-Pelletier, emergency physician at Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis

The emergency physician is particularly worried about the team at the Hôtel-Dieu; emergency that will be present 24 hours a day, while most clinics close during the holidays.

When Dr. Berger-Pelletier looks at the current situation in all age groups of the population, it seems worse to her than several COVID waves that we have experienced before. I have 11 years of practice and it is a first to see so much respiratory distress.

We have never had so many children with severe respiratory problems than we see now, observes the doctor. She indicates that to meet the demand, emergency physicians must lend a hand to the pediatric team for on-call observation.

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Due to the high traffic, two children with the same virus must sometimes be installed in the same room. Physically, there is just no more room, adds Dr. Berger-Pelletier.

In addition to the pediatric units, the emergency physician points out that the emergency rooms and waiting rooms are often crowded. Parents ask a lot of questions when the child has a temperature. It's very anxiety-provoking for [them] because in the media, we keep saying that the children are not well, but there are still a majority of children who are well. , she underlines.

Emergencies are crowded at the Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis (archives).

To reduce emergency room consultations, a telephone line dedicated to pediatric patients has been set up . Parents just have to dial 811. Do I have to consult? After how many days? What is respiratory distress? These are all very pertinent questions. Then people want to have someone on the phone to be reassured.

Dr. Berger-Pelletier reminds us that we will also have to follow the figures very closely to determine the best way to combat the spread of viruses.

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