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New dashboard, more diseases: N.L.'s COVID-19 hub adding data on other respiratory illnesses

Newfoundland and Labrador is overhauling its COVID-19 dashboard to include data on influenza and other respiratory viruses, including RSV, but some data publicly available since the start of the pandemic will no longer be shared.

New dashboard will include data on influenza, RSV

A woman wearing a white shirt stands in the lobby of an office building.
Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald announced Friday the province is replacing its online COVID-19 dashboard with a new respiratory activity dashboard. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador is overhauling its COVID-19 dashboard to include data on influenza and other respiratory viruses, including RSV, but some data publicly available since the start of the pandemic will no longer be shared.

The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, announced Friday the switch to a "respiratory activity dashboard," which will collect data from different circulating viruses in one place.

"The new dashboard is really going to look at COVID as well as flu and other respiratory viruses that are circulating at the moment," Fitzgerald said. "It's sort of one-stop shopping for respiratory virus season."

The new dashboard will be updated weekly on Fridays with the number of hospitalizations, admissions to intensive-care units and other data, along with new information, including the number of calls to the 811 health line about respiratory infections and ER visits involving those diseases.

It will also include the number of COVID-19 deaths each week with a graph of how case numbers and hospitalizations change over time — but a breakdown of deaths by age won't be part of the new portal.

"Part of the reason for that is really that, you know, we're trying to respect privacy as we see lower levels of deaths," said Fitzgerald. "And we certainly don't want to inadvertently, you know, breach privacy in any way."

The Health Department stopped providing a regional breakdown earlier this year.

Fitzgerald said the change was made because it was based on regional health authorities — and the province merging the authorities into Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services changes that approach.

The addition of other respiratory illnesses to the dashboard will replace weekly PDF reports that show the number of flu outbreaks and which strains are circulating.

That data won't be shared on the new dashboard, Fitzgerald said, but it will still be collected to help with programs and public health responses.

"We think what we've put on the website right now is certainly what will give the public the means to be able to make that assessment for themselves," Fitzgerald told reporters.

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With files from Peter Cowan

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