Longer Stanton wait times, few beds as flu season hits NWT hard

This flu season in the Northwest Territories is more than twice as bad as last year’s by some measures – and Yellowknife’s hospital is feeling the impact.

Stanton patient numbers exceeded available beds over the past week, the NWT’s health authority said on Friday.

“Respiratory virus season” is to blame, the authority said in a statement, adding that both Stanton’s intensive care unit and its in-patient unit “are currently seeing high volumes of admissions.”

Expect longer wait times, residents were told.

“Patients presenting to the emergency department will be triaged based on the urgency of their symptoms. However, in general, wait times will be longer than normal,” Friday’s statement read.



“Primary Care is experiencing higher-than-usual demand for same-day appointments. Yellowknife Region is attempting to ensure as many appointments are available as possible, however we continue to be impacted by practitioner and staff shortages.”

The NWT’s Department of Health and Social Services told Cabin Radio the data suggests “this respiratory season’s influenza activity is more than double that of the previous season.”

Up to December 30, 2023, there had been 167 confirmed cases of flu in the NWT this season. That compares to 71 cases over the same period a year earlier.

Between December 10 and December 30 alone, there were 117 confirmed cases of flu reported to the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer. The department said that figure “may underestimate the true number of influenza cases” as not everyone gets tested.



Cases of RSV – another respiratory virus – appear similar in number to last year, the department said, though cases are occurring later in the season than they did a year ago. Twenty-four RSV cases were confirmed between December 10 and December 30.

Reports of confirmed Covid-19 cases “have been steady throughout this respiratory season,” the department said. There were three such cases between December 10 and December 30.

The territory’s health authority said reports of flu-like illness weren’t confined to Yellowknife and are appearing in other areas of the territory. A number of communities had asked residents to stay home if sick or to wear masks while attending events like New Year’s Eve parties.

The health authority said case numbers were “likely to increase” after the holiday travel period, urging residents to “get vaccinated for influenza and Covid-19 and to practice healthy habits, including washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying home if feeling unwell.”


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