WINDSOR -- Windsor Regional Hospital is getting a helping hand to deal with the number of flu patients.

For a second year in a row, the provincial government is giving WRH $1.6 million to open an extra 20 beds, if necessary.

10 would be located at the Ouellette campus and another 10 at the Met campus.

Chief Operating Officer Karen McCullough tells CTV News the money helps the emergency department.

"Some years it's hard to predict really what the volume or increase of patients is going to be so we would not use those beds if we didn't need them, but if we do, we've got the beds, we've got the staff and we have the dollars to open those beds as required," says McCullough.

McCullough notes the hospital sees an increase in patients from mid-November to March.

An acute care bed costs about $1,200 a day to operate.

The hospital received the same amount of additional funding in 2018.

Health officials have predicted an earlier and stronger flu season, due to an increase in the number of influenza cases in Australia so far during the country's winter.

Erie Shores Healthcare has reported an increase in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms.