Kelowna emergency doctor warns residents to be prepared for winter with increasing COVID-19 cases | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna emergency doctor warns residents to be prepared for winter with increasing COVID-19 cases

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November 22, 2020 - 2:28 PM

A Kelowna emergency room doctor is recommending that residents plan ahead and be prepared as the region continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Jeffrey Eppler, a Kelowna emergency room doctor, said the emergency room is still down about five to 10 per cent in terms of patients compared to last year's numbers, but is approaching patient numbers prior to the pandemic.

Eppler asked residents to continue visiting the emergency room during the first wave of COVID-19, as he was seeing sicker patients holding off on coming in for treatment since they were concerned about the virus. That's no longer the case.

READ MORE: Kelowna doctor says people are getting sicker by avoiding ER due to COVID-19 fear

“We are starting to see people come in with the usual thing, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, injuries that sort thing,” he said.

Eppler estimates they see around 200 people a day, and at peak times, Kelowna General Hospital’s emergency room can reach up to four doctors.

As more people are wearing masks, he expects to see less influenza and respiratory-related infections this season, he said.

Eppler also expects to see more COVID-19-related emergency room visits this winter and is warning people to be vigilant with social distancing measures. He said Interior Health has gone to great lengths to separate possible COVID-19 patients from regular patients in the emergency department.

“People need to start thinking of what’s going to happen in the next month or two in terms of how they're going to live their lives, taking into account we might be under lockdown in Christmas time,” he said.

In Canada’s flu season last year, it recorded 711 positive influenza. This year there’s only been 17.

Many health experts feared that a fall wave of COVID-19 would not only be worse than the first wave in the spring, but it would come just as seasonal flu infections started to spread, making it impossible for hospitals to keep up.

COVID-19 is proving to be worse this fall, with almost 60 per cent of the total confirmed cases in Canada being diagnosed since Sept. 1. Canada’s top doctor Dr. Theresa Tam said  in terms of the flu "It's definitely looking good at this point."

- With files from The Canadian Press


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