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Viral respiratory infections (VRI) cause increased morbidity and mortality in both adult and pediatric healthcare settings. Age is a key risk factor with regards to the severity, transmission and impact of VRI. The consequences of VRI are especially concerning for children and older adults with existing co-morbidities or underlying conditions such as cardiac and pulmonary disease, or immunosuppression. The emergence of SARS, avian influenza, novel H1N1 influenza, MERS-CoV and, recently, COVID-19 have underlined the need for data to inform infection prevention and control practices for respiratory pathogens in healthcare settings.


A hospital’s ability to appropriately manage COVID-19 and other VRI patients will be dependent on their understanding of the burden of both community and healthcare associated severe respiratory infections. This surveillance will assist in understanding the burden of COVID-19 and other VRI in adults and pediatric patients in Canadian hospitals.
A real-time hospital based surveillance system will assist in identifying high-risk groups, as well as describing risk factors and patient outcomes in order to inform public health decisions and evaluate interventions.

Short term objectives

  1. Describe the inpatient population infected with COVID-19
  2. Provide timely data (e.g. demographic, clinical and outcome data) to hospitals and PHAC regarding patients hospitalized with COVID-19

Long term objectives

  1. Identify new and emerging respiratory viruses in Canadian acute care hospitals
  2. Describe selected characteristics of the organisms involved and of the pediatric and adult populations who develop VRI in order to assist hospitals in the development of precautionary measures for patients at high risk
  3. Facilitate intra- and inter-hospital comparison of adult and pediatric VRI rates over time
  4. Compare the epidemiology of COVID-19 to other currently circulating respiratory viruses among pediatric and adult inpatients, and to compare the epidemiology of COVID-19 with pathogens that have emerged previously in Canada such as H1N1 and COVID-19