Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

May 20, 2009 18:18 ET

Federal Government Provides Update H1N1 Flu Virus

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 20, 2009) - Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq and Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, today confirmed 223 additional Canadian cases of the H1N1 flu virus, bringing the total number of laboratory confirmed cases in Canada to 719. This is a cumulative case count of laboratory confirmed cases reported since April 26, 2009, and the additional numbers represent cases reported between May 16 and May 20, 2009.

"We continue to work with provincial and territorial partners to monitor this virus. So far the majority of cases in Canada have been mild, and have recovered fully," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Continued surveillance will give us more insight into the nature of this virus, and will allow us to adapt our plans as necessary to best manage this outbreak."

Today's H1N1 report includes additional cases reported by British Columbia (14), Alberta (19), Saskatchewan (30), Manitoba (2), Ontario (97), Quebec (59) and Nova Scotia (2). These numbers are not representative of the number of people in Canada who are currently sick with H1N1 flu virus. Influenza may last seven days, so by the time provincial and territorial laboratories confirm the virus and report it to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the person will have already have recovered.

"Our experts at PHAC have worked with provincial and territorial partners to analyze more detailed information about the confirmed cases," said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "Of the 719 cases, 13 have required hospitalization, which supports what we have seen so far in Canada, that the severity of the symptoms is more typical of seasonal flu. However, even with a mild flu, we need to remain vigilant in preventing illness and watching for changes in the virus."

Initial research shows that H1N1 has spread in Canadian communities very much like regular seasonal flu, and as such, additional cases are expected to continue to be reported. An increase in cases does not necessarily indicate an increase in the severity of illness in Canada.

PHAC is currently reporting updated case numbers three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Options are being explored for ongoing surveillance of the impact of the virus on Canadian communities moving forward, including increased surveillance of hospitalizations and severity of illness.

For the latest information on the H1N1 flu virus, visit

Steps to take to reduce the chances of becoming infected from H1N1 flu virus:

- Washing hands often and thoroughly and use hand sanitizers

- Coughing and sneezing into your arm, not your hand

- Keeping common surfaces and items clean and disinfected

- Staying home if you're sick, unless directed to seek medical care

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  • Public Health Agency of Canada
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