Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

June 11, 2009 16:05 ET

Canada Ready as World Health Organization Moves to Phase Six Pandemic Alert

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 11, 2009) - The Government of Canada today reassured Canadians that it will continue to implement the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan in close coordination with domestic and international partners in order to address H1N1 flu virus.

The announcement was made in response to today's decision by the World Health Organization to raise the H1N1 flu virus pandemic alert level from Phase Five to Phase Six. In doing so the WHO underscored:

- The decision is based on the spread of the virus and not the severity of illness it causes. The virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in more than three countries across two WHO regions;

- In general, the H1N1 flu virus continues to cause moderate illness globally with most people affected recovering at home without medical treatment. For instance in Canada most infections to date have been mild; and,

- That borders should remain open.

"Since the beginning, Canada has taken decisive action to address the H1N1 Flu Virus and protect Canadians," said Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq. "Today's decision by the WHO does not change our approach. Entering Phase Six means we will build on the surveillance and management measures that are already in place under the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan."

The Government of Canada will continue to advance the following activities as a result of the WHO's Phase Six pandemic alert level:

- Ensuring that the National Antiviral Stockpile can be mobilized quickly so Canadians can receive the treatment they need;

- Working with vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline to advance the process of developing and testing a vaccine in accordance with a pre-established standing contract;

- Managing the National Emergency Stockpile System (NESS) which contains hospital supplies, equipment and other pharmaceuticals (including a stockpile of anti-viral medication);

- Assessing implementation of community-based strategies aimed at mitigating potential impact on the healthcare system and society as whole;

- Working with national professional organizations and non-government organizations to optimize and monitor essential health-related resources such as: medical supplies, antivirals, vaccines, sanitizers and antibiotics, health care worker availability, hospital occupancy/availability, and use of alternative health facilities.

"Moving into Phase Six, we continue to implement our plan as appropriate to the situation in Canada," said Dr. David Butler-Jones. "The virus is causing primarily mild illness in Canada, and we are working with our partners at all levels make sure those who are sick get appropriate support and treatment if needed."

Canada has already taken a proactive approach in addressing this virus, so the declaration of Phase Six will result in the continuation of several ongoing efforts, including:

- Monitoring the progress of the H1N1 flu virus and assessing the information using it to inform future actions;

- Continuing to communicate widely with Canadians and ensuring information is easily accessible;

- Providing healthcare professionals with updated guidelines and advice based on what we know about the disease;

For the latest information on H1N1, visit www.fightflu.ca.

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Contact Information

  • Public Health Agency of Canada
    Media Relations
    613-941-8189