Patients with flu symptoms who enter a hospital, for example via emergency care or obstetrics, must be placed in isolation. Often patients also get a test to see if they have the flu virus, influenza, among the members. Both the number of available isolation rooms and the testing capacity of hospitals are under pressure due to the corona pandemic. “Every institution is preparing for this,” said Voss.
At the CWZ hospital in Nijmegen, where Voss works as a medical microbiologist, it will therefore soon start testing people for corona and flu at the same time. “That saves some work, because you only have to take genetic material once. On the other hand, the number of people with a snot nose is also increasing. ”
According to a spokesperson for the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, hospitals are preparing as well as possible for the arrival of flu patients, but because of corona it is “making do with what we have. We expect extra crowds because of the flu. Moreover, the personnel will also become infected, which puts even more pressure on capacity. ” According to him, the flu season is for these reasons every year a ‘difficult time’ for the hospital, but this year the pressure is extra high.
In addition, hospitals are concerned about the seriousness of the combination of corona and flu. “We expect that getting corona and the flu will give patients even more seriously ill,” said a spokesman for the Amsterdam UMC. “And this while our capacity is already under pressure, we are already scaling down regular care.”
The hospital hopes that as many people as possible will be vaccinated against flu this year. Additional vaccines have been purchased for employees and the flu campaign to encourage people to vaccinate is taking longer.
Andreas Voss also hopes that on average more people will want to get vaccinated this year. That would reduce the size of the flu wave. But regardless of the vaccination coverage, it is expected that it will be a relatively mild flu season. “What we’ve also seen in the Southern Hemisphere last winter is that there are relatively fewer airway viruses circulating than usual. Because of the corona measures, for example, people keep a lot more distance than normal, which also makes the flu virus less likely to spread. ” But no matter how mild, it will be exciting for hospitals how to get through the flu season. “In any case, the workload continues to increase.”