Toronto Public Health confirmed to Fox News that there are now three cases of Omicron variant Influenza A in the City of Toronto.
The disease has previously spread to Quebec. There have been no reported deaths linked to the illness, despite a shortage of anti-viral medication.
The department said that influenza A (H3N2) has been detected in Influenza A (H1N1) and Influenza B (strains of H3N2, H1N1 and B) specimens as well as Influenza B specimens in prior months.
“There has been widespread transmission of the influenza virus so far this winter season, and so far the influenza A (H3N2) variant has only been detected in areas outside the City of Toronto, including Quebec and the National Capital Region,” the department said in a statement.
The department also warned that some strains of the virus can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia and meningitis in addition to the more common complications like ear, sinus and chest infections.
Emergency department visits are on the rise in the city, according to a Toronto Public Health spokesperson.
“Outpatient visits to our hospitals have seen significant increases for individuals aged 18 to 64 years,” the spokesperson said. “In the general patient population, those younger than 65 are seeing more inpatient cases. The national average in the same age range is 9/3 times the national average as compared to TPH’s more recent increase from week 33-42 to week 44-59 in Ontario.”
Tight flu and cold season budgets may be among the reasons why government agencies are reluctant to reduce funding available to community health care providers, according to Cheryl Washington, vice president of advocacy and policy at Ontario Health Coalition.
“When you’re using the public health system to do other things, it will make it more difficult to get patient care,” Washington said. “Your ministries of public health are by and large looking to respond to the ever-changing requirements. There may not be that balance in funding resources.”
“Public health care is critical in terms of disease control,” she added. “It’s hard to isolate people from social isolation by simply sending them home.”
Sarah Desjardins contributed to this report.