Langley Times

The flu outbreak hasn't hit Langley schools yet

The terrible flu virus Fraser Health has declared a "health hazard" hasn't hit Langley schools yet, said Sandy Wakeling, school district spokesman.

"We are not seeing the spike yet," said Wakeling. "Stay tuned."

Two Surrey schools have been hit by this strain of flu, with one classroom seeing an absentee rate of 40 per cent.

Teachers' absentees are average as are students in Langley, he said.

All school districts have protocols in place with Fraser Health to try and curb outbreaks of illness.

"If there is an absentee rate of 10 per cent or more in any classroom, public health gets involved," said Wakeling.

That can mean sterilization of a classroom of an entire school depending, he said.

Flu shots were available to all Langley school district staff and teachers.

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder declared the current level of influenza (flu) virus circulating within Fraser Health communities a health hazard under the provisions of the Public Health Act, allowing for additional measures to be taken to safeguard the health and well-being of our most vulnerable community members.

Nineteen Fraser Health residential (long-term) care facilities have reported influenza outbreaks already this year, with significant consequences for residents, including an increase in deaths this year so far. This is more than twice as many outbreaks as were reported each of the past two years. In addition, influenza-related visits to Fraser Health emergency departments are at the highest level seen in years, said the FHA.

Effective immediately, all people attending a residential care or assisted living facility who have not received a flu shot this year, including staff, volunteers and visitors, will be required to wear a mask and practice stringent hand hygiene during their time at the facility.

Fraser Health is reminding visitors to avoid going to residential care and assisted living facilities if they are feeling unwell.

“We are asking our patients, visitors and staff to take these extra steps to protect their family members, patients, residents and loved ones from this highly contagious and serious virus,” said Dr. Van Buynder.

Quick facts:

•    This flu season, we have already seen twice as many influenza outbreaks as the whole of each of the last three years.

•    This flu season, we have already seen more than four times the number of flu-related hospitalizations from long-term care facilities than we do in a typical flu season.

•    We have already seen more than three times the number of deaths associated with influenza among residents of residential care facilities than for the last three years combined.

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