High-risk groups are now being asked to contact a doctor as soon as they experience flu-like symptoms.
New recommendations from the province Thursday -- which include asking seriously ill people to call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room -- will put more pressure on a health care system already stretched thin, health officials confirmed.
“We are already stretched and this is certainly going to add extra pressures to the system. This is why we are asking people to be patient,” said senior health advisor Ken Buchholz.
The message had previously been to stay home if you get flu unless it became serious enough that one would normally go to the hospital.
However, health officials now want people to be extra cautious. High-risk groups, such as women in the second half of pregnancy, children under five and people with chronic illness are now urged to go to a doctor at the first sign of sickness.
Even otherwise healthy people are now being asked to call 911 or go to the emergency room if they come down with severe flu symptoms. Those include chest pains, dizziness, severe vomiting and high fever.
The health department is trying to streamline its systems to make room for increased traffic. Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer, revealed Thursday labratories will no longer conduct H1N1 tests on people not in hospital.
Health officials also repeated their message that people who are not in a high-risk group should wait up to two weeks before getting vaccinated to avoid overcrowding at clinics.
Strang said district health authorities may give high-risk groups special treatment and move them to the front of clinic lines.
Four adults with H1N1 are currently in isolation at hospitals within the Capital District Health Authority, media spokesman John Gillis said Thursday night. It was also reported up to another six children are in hospital with H1N1 at the IWK Health Centre.