The province says it is reopening 20 hospital emergency operations centres originally set up to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in anticipation of a surge in respiratory illnesses.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says hospitals have been seeing an unprecedented increase in demand in the health care system due to a significantly bad flu season.
He added that it is common to see people seeking medical care and surgeries ramp up again in January following a slowdown over the holidays.
The centres will open Monday, Jan. 9 to provide a coordinated response during the high-demand period and will remain open for at least six weeks.
READ MORE: Six children’s deaths were linked to influenza in B.C. in November
Leadership teams will review bed availability and identify solutions to ease emergency department congestion, said Dix.
The emergency centres will also support patients ready to be discharged from hospital to transition out of care.
The centres will be activated at 20 hospitals across the province, including Vancouver General, Abbotsford Regional, Royal Columbian in Kamloops, and on the Island, Victoria General, Royal Jubilee and Nanaimo General.
In the meantime the province is asking residents to help ease the burden on the health-care system by getting vaccinated, staying home when sick and following public health guidelines.
Those with life-threatening symptoms should go to the emergency department, while non-emergency concerns can be addressed at a care provider or walk-in clinic.
Urgent same-day care can be sought at an urgent and primary care center, and unsure individuals can call 811 for advice.