PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. -- Northern Health is warning Prince Rupert residents that the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital is experiencing higher than usual patient volumes. As a result, it says wait times for the emergency department could be longer than usual.

The health authority is urging those with less urgent care needs to instead visit a family physician or their primary care provider -- or to contact Northern Health's Virtual Primary and Community Care Clinic -- in order to reduce the strain on the hospital.

However, those who require emergency attention should call 9-1-1 or visit the emergency room.

This news also comes after Health Minister Adrian Dix announced last week that staff from the Prince Rupert hospital's operating room are being redeployed to the emergency department due to staffing pressures.