RVH anticipates influx of young patients with respiratory illnesses this fall

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) staff in Barrie are preparing for a possible influx of young patients as the weather cools, and they aren't just concerned about COVID-19.

RVH NICU and pediatrics manager Natalie Sherrit says the hospital is increasing capacity by 25 per cent because of concerns around seasonal respiratory illnesses.

"We are predicting an increase in RSV season, which is a respiratory illness, influenza, bronchitis and COVID because these kids haven't really been exposed to any viruses or illnesses in the last 18 months," Sherrit explains.

And while the latest COVID-19 modelling for the province paints a cautiously optimistic picture, doctors say it's too early to know the impact of schools reopening.

Ontario's overall case numbers have flatlined, but cases among children five to 11 are climbing.

"It's just a reminder to us that it's important to stay safe and masked even when you're around your friends, neighbours, and at school," notes Dr. Leah Bartlett, pediatrics chief and medical director in Barrie.

Last week, Pfizer announced positive results from a trial among children five to 11; however, the company has yet to submit to Health Canada for approval.