“We need people to take this seriously”: Queensland Children’s Hospital is under pressure with a sharp rise in flu and respiratory tract cases

The emergency department of Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH) in Brisbane is experiencing unprecedented demand, with record numbers of patients last month.

Figures show that the hospital, which opened in November 2014, treats 205 patients in the emergency department (ED) every day.

But in seven days over the last fortnight, it has grown to more than 300 children a day – a jump of about 30 percent – resulting in much longer waiting times than usual.

“May 2022 was the busiest month in history for the emergency department of Queensland Children’s Hospital,” a hospital spokesman said.

“In May 2022, there was a 21% increase in ED presentations compared to April 2022.”

The spokesman said the number of children suffering from respiratory distress due to diseases such as COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus increased by 78 percent in May compared to the previous month.

Some of these children required admission to the hospital and a “very small number” needed intensive care.

This year’s flu season began earlier than usual and seemed to peak before the typical August peak, the spokesman said.

Notification of influenza in 2022 by age groups by May 29.(Supplied with: Queensland Health)

Brisbane Infectious Diseases Specialist Paul Griffin, an associate professor at the University of Queensland, said people were more susceptible to the flu than in previous years after being protected by COVID-19 restrictions in the past two years.

“It looks like it’s going to be a very important season – we see a lot of presentations,” he said.

“There are consequences… of influenza which may subsequently lead to admission to the track.

“We know it significantly increases your chances of getting even bacterial pneumonia in the weeks after the flu, so we see a lot of things in our hospitals.

Man in suit and glasses.
Dr Paul Griffin says people are more susceptible to the flu than in previous years after being protected by COVID-19 restrictions in the last two years.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Recent Queensland Health data show that 12,143 flu cases have been reported so far in 2022, more than double the five-year average for the first five months of the year.

Laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in Queensland by week and month of onset 2017-22.  The graph shows an early rise in 2022
Laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Queensland by week and month of onset, 2017–29. May 2022.(Supplied with: Queensland Health)

Although all Queensland residents over the age of six months are eligible for free flu vaccinations until June 30, only a quarter of the population has opted for seasonal vaccinations.

“We really should have a much, much higher rate,” Dr. Griffin said.

“We know that the flu vaccine is both safe and effective and will be very long to prevent people from becoming infected, but most importantly, a bit like COVID, it will prevent them from really getting sick and … end up in the hospital.”

At this stage, Queensland Health has not yet ordered influenza vaccination for visitors to the elderly facility, as has been the case with COVID-19.

“I know the issue of vaccination mandates remains controversial, but I think the evidence is clear given such a sensitive group of people in a very high-risk environment,” said Dr Griffin.

#people #Queensland #Childrens #Hospital #pressure #sharp #rise #flu #respiratory #tract #cases

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *