Fewer sick kids have been admitted to intensive care units at the children's hospital in Winnipeg in recent days, but health officials are warning this could change as people gather for the holiday season. 

Dr. Karen Gripp, the medical director of the hospital's emergency department, says there are 17 pediatric patients receiving intensive care, down from 23 a week earlier. 

In the neonatal intensive care unit, there are 47 patients, with the normal baseline being 50. 

A surge of children sick with respiratory illnesses prompted the hospital to postpone some surgeries and shift some health-care workers around last week. 

Dr. Patricia Birk, head of pediatrics and child health at the hospital, says no new operational changes have been made this week and only one elective surgery was postponed due to the changes. 

Officials say it's still early in the typical respiratory season and are urging families to stay home if sick during the holidays. 

"We know people want to celebrate, particularly after the past couple of years, but celebrating a holiday with extended family and friends isn't worth the risk of getting your loved one sick," says Gripp. 

"Your illness might be a minor inconvenience for you, but it could be life-threatening for an infant or toddler … so please consider carefully and make the right choice."

This month, the hospital is averaging 136 patients compared to 170 patients in November, says Gripp. 

While numbers have gone down, there are still a large number of children being admitted into intensive care with influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

This month, there have been 52 hospitalizations for RSV, including 23 last week. 

Officials are expecting to see an uptick in cases in the new year and as cases of influenza B start being detected. 

"We know that once we start seeing a few cases, that quickly turns into many cases, and hopefully we don't have any dire outcomes from that," says Gripp. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2022.