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3 people died from flu in northwest Sask. in the last month

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The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) says three people have died from the flu in northwestern Saskatchewan.

The deaths involved people in their 30s, 50s and over 60-years-old, according to NITHA.

“Three deaths within the space of two months, quite early in the season, is very concerning,” NITHA’s medical health officer, Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, tells CTV News.

Ndubuka says all three people who died were hospitalized with severe influenza symptoms and had pre-existing medical conditions.

NITHA is not disclosing the locations of the deaths, but says they happened on First Nations in northwestern Saskatchewan and involved influenza type A.

Influenza cases in northern Saskatchewan have nearly doubled from last year, according to NITHA data.

Since October, there have been 50 lab-confirmed cases of influenza, compared to 26 cases in the same period last year.

Ndubuka says transmission is happening at schools and spreads more rapidly on First Nations where there is overcrowding in homes.

“We see challenges around inadequate housing, and the risk of having increased transmission of respiratory illnesses within homes where you have overcrowding,” Ndubuka says.

Ndubuka is urging people to get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19.

“We strongly encourage community members to stay protected by taking these vaccines. That is only way that we can keep communities safe,” Ndubuka says.

NITHA is comprised of the Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

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