01/18/2015 11:16 EST | Updated 03/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Montreal flu clinics extended at least another week

Montreal's public health agency will keep open its specialized flu clinics for at least one more week.

Public health authorities designated several clinics across the island as front-line treatment centres for the flu a week ago.

The aim was to free up space in Montreal's overcrowded emergency rooms.

Since then, the eight clinics have been seeing about 300 patients a day, on average. 

These clinics can treat people who have milder influenza symptoms and do not require emergency care.

The clinics will run until Jan. 23 and are open everyday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Yearly clinics?

Public health authorities say the worst of the flu outbreak is now behind us, however some doctors want to look at bringing the clinics back every flu season.

"Every year it's pretty much the same: emergency rooms become clogged by the flow of patients. So if we had these clinics, patients would know every year where they can go for consultation before going to the emergency room," said Dr. Marie-Claude Nadeau from Montreal's ANGUS clinic. 

"I think it could help relieve congestion in many Quebec hospitals," she said. 

The flu-clinics network was established during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009.

Dr. Jacques Ricard, executive director of the Montreal public health agency, says it's too early to commit to annual clinics, but he says it is something the city is considering.

"I think the experience of this year can help us to assess the situation and see if there really is a need for the implementation of flu clinics every year," he said.