Infectious disease specialist says emergency departments in Oshawa and Ajax should be for severely ill people only

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Published January 6, 2022 at 11:32 am

Lakeridge Health officials are asking the public to exercise common sense before going to the emergency room as recent and dramatic upswings in infections and hospitalizations from the Omicron variant – as well as staffing shortages – threaten to overwhelm the system.

If you think you have the virus and your symptoms are mild, there really isn’t much the hospital can do for you, said Dr. Daniel Ricciuto, an Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases specialist at Lakeridge Health, as well as Physician Lead for Infection Prevention and Control. The best course of action, he said, is to self-isolate for five days and monitor your symptoms before talking to your family doctor.

“We really want to discourage people from coming to the emergency department – it’s not the place to be,’ he said. “You can infect others.”

Emergency room visits should be only if you have ‘severe’ respiratory symptoms or have certain risk factors, such as a weakened immune system, he added.

Sharon Navarro, Lakeridge Health’s Manager, Public Relations & Digital Communications, said the emergency departments in Oshawa and Ajax are filling up with people complaining of a cough or cold. Those people, she said, will be waiting a long time for service.

“Are you severely ill? Is this potentially life or death? That’s when you go to the emergency department,” she said.

Rapid antigen test kits are available at various locations around Durham but COVID-19 testing is no longer done at the hospital, she added.

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