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‘We’re just bombarded with illness’: Prairies see highest rates of positive flu tests in Canada

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A daycare operator in Regina says the current flu season has been even worse than when “we were in full COVID.”

“People were isolating at that time and whatnot, but now everyone is back,” said Megan Schmidt, director of First Years Learning Center.

“It just seems that everybody is catching everything. I don’t think there’s anybody that hasn’t been touched by the flu,” Schmidt said.

Pandemic precautions prevented the spread of COVID and respiratory viruses for almost three years. Influenza levels were exceptionally low nationally until early 2022, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection rates were close to zero for months.

But now Canada is facing a triple virus threat as COVID-19, flu and RSV continue to spread.

Prairie provinces have the worst rates of positive flu tests, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch report from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12. Almost a third of tests came back positive (28 per cent).

Adam Ogieglo, a family physician in Saskatoon, is not surprised by the high positivity rates.

“I think over the last two or three weeks essentially every swab I’ve done apart from one has come back positive for influenza A. So we are definitely seeing those stats born out in real-time in our clinic.”

He said people seeking help at the urgent clinic care are waiting four or five hours to see a physician or being turned away altogether toward the end of the day.

“People are having trouble accessing care and we’re just bombarded with illness,” he said.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Alberta, says western provinces normally get an earlier flu season than the rest of Canada because school starts sooner and the climate is drier.

“Once it gets introduced into a region, they start to experience their epidemic,” she said.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, a University of Alberta infectious diseases specialist, says people have got out of the habit of getting their flu shots during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Martin Weaver/CBC)

But since many people managed to avoid getting sick the past few years, Saxinger and other experts say people’s immunity has waned.

“What we have is a population that really doesn’t have much of an immunity from partial exposure to influenza or partial immunity from more recent vaccination, so it’s a bit more of an aggressive uptick because people are that much more susceptible,” Saxinger said.

Youngsters hit hardest

Children four years old and younger currently have the highest rates of hospitalization due to influenza, according to PHAC.

So far, Schmidt says, no children at her daycare have been hospitalized this year because of the flu.

“I just hope that continues,” she said. “We just urge parents to try to let them sleep in if they need to, or we try to give them maybe an extra long nap here if they need it because we just have to avoid the hospital.”

Emergency room wait times, especially in children’s hospitals, are increasing across the country.

In Saskatchewan, 16 people were admitted to hospital because of influenza from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, according to the province’s report on respiratory illnesses. Four were admitted to the intensive care unit.

The majority of influenza hospitalizations and ICU admissions are among those 19 and younger and 60 years and older, according to the province.

Children four years old and younger currently have the highest rates of hospitalization due to influenza, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Low vaccination rates

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are all reporting lower than normal flu shot uptake.

Less than 18 per cent of Albertans have their flu shot, according to provincial data.

Saxinger says people got out of the habit of getting their flu shots during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s flown beneath the radar a little too much and we’re behind on the vaccination,” she said.

 

Prairies bearing the brunt of harsh flu season

 

Canada’s Prairie region is an early hotspot for flu, with test positivity hitting 28 per cent. Experts blame low vaccination rates and years of pandemic protections that left populations with lower immunity, and children may be the most at risk.

In other years, 50 to 60 per cent of the population would have their flu shots, according to Saxinger.

Saskatchewan’s influenza immunization campaign was launched on Oct. 11. Fifteen per cent of the population received the influenza vaccine as of Nov. 5, according to the province’s report.

That’s a 28 per cent decrease in coverage compared with the same time last year, the report said.

Calls for more measures

The Prairie provinces, like others, haven’t had provincial health mandates in months. Mask use hasn’t been mandatory in Saskatchewan since late February, but the rapid surge of  flu and RSV has renewed calls from some frontline workers to reinstate mask mandates to alleviate the strain on the healthcare system.

The top doctors in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have all said now is not the time to reinstate mask mandates, but continue to recommend masks to slow viral spread.

Ogieglo encourages people to wear masks indoors, stay home when sick and get their flu shot and COVID-19 booster

“If you walk into our clinic and see the lineup that is stretching around the building [waiting] to be seen, then I think it makes sense that maybe we need to act together to protect the integrity of our health-care system,” he said.

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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart

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Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert

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Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled

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Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!

 

1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.

 

2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.

 

3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.

 

4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.

 

5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.

 

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