Flu season ‘off to a slow start’ in the NWT, says top doctor

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Flu season is off to a slow start in the Northwest Territories, but the number of cases reported could jump considerably in the next couple weeks.

That’s according to Dr. André Corriveau, the territory’s chief public health officer.

RELATED: Flu shot clinics open across the NWT as influenza season begins

He told Moose FM there have only been nine confirmed cases of the flu throughout the territory this season – roughly a third of what was reported last year.

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Dr. André Corriveau, the territory's chief public health officer.
Dr. André Corriveau, the territory’s chief public health officer.

But Corriveau expects the real number to be much higher because most people won’t report their illness.

He says flu season came much earlier last year, with cases popping up closer to Christmas time. He expects more cases to be reported now that people are back from holiday and students have gone back to school.

“The flu season seems to be off to a slow start in our case,” said Corriveau. “Typically, the peak is sometime in January but it can be early or late.”

“I think it’s probably time right now for the spread to start happening more. We had one person hospitalized this week and we expect that we’re going to get hit harder in the next week or two.”

Parts of Alberta and Yukon have been hit particularly hard this month, with higher-than-average hospitalization rates being reported in some areas.

“It certainly looks like there’s a lot of influenza activity in other parts of western Canada,” said Corriveau.

The territory’s top doctor says immunization remains the best form of protection against the flu, and that people should avoid contact with others if they start showing signs of influenza.

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