In recent weeks, the number of cases of H3N2 influenza, a subtype of influenza A virus, has caused outbreaks of influenza in several states of the country, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. In the face of a surge in influenza cases, major ABC cities are already preparing to use the designated structure for Covid-19 patients for severe cases of H3N2 influenza and Srags (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes).
In São Caetano, for example, 70 beds, 40 beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 30 in the infirmary, will be moved to meet the demand for influenza virus in case of need. Diadema and São Bernardo must also use the structure intended for patients infected with the coronavirus. Rio Grande da Serra must increase service capacity in the city’s UPA (emergency care unit), but the most severe cases will be transferred to reference hospitals in other cities in the region, as the city does not have any municipal hospital.
In the greater ABC region, according to epidemiological data from city councils, in the past seven days, 15 suspected influenza viruses have been registered in the public network, two cases in São Caetano and 13 in São Bernardo, where patients are hospitalized in the municipal network waiting Laboratory results from the Adolfo Lutz Institute. In Santo André, in both the public and private network, 54 people were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, 42 of which were confirmed with H3N2 virus – one person in the city died as a result of the virus.
For ER doctor Malik Imad, the number of cases in the area could be even higher due to a lack of virus testing. The H3N2 flu test is more expensive and takes longer than the Covid test and is not available in all health facilities. Therefore, this data does not reflect the reality in which we live. The health units are completely full of patients with flu-like symptoms,” he explains.
The specialist also lists measures to be taken to try to control an outbreak of influenza. “Currently, it is necessary to increase the number of doctors to help and to intensify the screening of severe cases to isolate those people in a specific household, who are also at risk of contracting the Covid virus. We are seeing an outbreak of influenza within a pandemic, so the ideal is not to confuse patients,” the doctor explains, Which also stresses the importance of continuing to respect health measures to try to combat influenza outbreaks, such as using masks, hand hygiene, and maintaining physical distance.
Regarding the appointment of health professionals due to high demand, the City of Diadema reported that “the administration has made permanent efforts to recruit doctors, nurses and other health professionals to maintain the full picture in the municipality’s network and, last week, weekend, carried out a public tender to strengthen the existing framework,” he said. in a note. The Santo Andrés Ministry of Health reports that it continues to monitor the evolution of the demand for care in urban consolidated areas and the increase in the number of doctors in units with the largest influx of people.
More than crowd
In recent days, residents of São Caetano have suffered from overcrowding in public health units, due to the outbreak of influenza hitting the city. Health worker Anna Julia (not her real name) developed flu-like symptoms and could not be seen in the municipality. With body aches for three days, I decided yesterday morning to go to the local Albert Sabin emergency hospital and found several people waiting for care in the unit.
São Caetanense couldn’t wait for help under the strong sun and decided to try it out at the Caterina Dall’ Anese Basic Health Unit, in the Olímpico region. However, when she arrived, she was told that she would not show up as the unit would be without lights for the next few minutes. “Once I arrive, inform the employee that the responsible company will cut off power on site and the unit is not providing assistance. I did a Covid test on my own and the result came back negative. Because of my symptoms and because of my exposure in hospitals, I think it’s H3N2 flu, however, I can’t get treatment anywhere in São Caetano,” said Ana Julia indignantly, who was due to return at dawn on Wednesday to the Albert Sabin hospital to try to attend.
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