Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

April 26, 2009 17:07 ET

Government of Canada Is Working Closely With Provinces and Territories and International Partners to Address Swine Flu

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 26, 2009) - Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. David Butler-Jones today assured Canadians that the federal government is working closely with the provinces and territories and international partners to protect the health and safety of Canadians, following confirmation of the first cases of human swine influenza in Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg has confirmed four cases of A, H1N1 swine flu from Nova Scotia. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control identified two additional cases from British Columbia. All six cases are same strain of human swine influenza that has been found in the U.S. and Mexico. These first cases were detected as a result of the increased surveillance the federal government initiated with the provinces and territories and health professionals given concerns over the spread of swine flu in Mexico and the United States.

"The federal government will continue to monitor the situation closely to detect any illness as early as possible and ensure Canadians are protected. I have been in frequent contact with my counterparts in the provinces and territories. I'm having discussions regularly with our international partners, including the World Health Organization, officials from Health and Human Services in the United States, as well as the Mexican health minister," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Although we are relieved to hear that the Canadians who have been diagnosed with swine influenza exhibited mild symptoms, we will remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation closely."

The Government of Canada is working in close co-ordination with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mexican Department of Health, the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization and other partners. Two Canadian epidemiologists are in Mexico, assisting with testing at that country's request.

"Canada's public health system has worked quickly to identify and confirm these cases," said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "Canada is well-positioned to deal with this issue. We have a national plan for emerging disease outbreaks and we are following it."

There are simple measures to minimize the risk of being infected. These steps include simply washing your hands, controlling coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, and talking to a health professional if you experience flu-like symptoms.

Minister Aglukkaq re-iterated that federal officials will continue to update Canadians with accurate information at regular intervals over the coming days and weeks.

A backgrounder on some of the actions the federal government is taking and the measures Canadians should take to protect themselves is attached.

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BACKGROUND ON GOVERNMENT ACTIONS

The Government of Canada is taking action on a number of fronts, including:

Public Information:

- A 1-800 information line, namely 1-800-454-8302, is available seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) where Canadians can get more information;

- A travel health notice and frequently asked questions have been posted to the Public Health Agency of Canada website www.phac.gc.ca; and,

- An information bulletin with health advice will soon be distributed to incoming travellers to Canada to remind them of simple health precautions

Monitoring and Coordination:

- The Government's Emergency Operations Centre has been elevated to full activation (Level 4), operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week;

- Daily coordination and information sharing conference calls are being held with provincial and territorial public health authorities and international partners; and,

- Officials remain vigilant in screening and reporting of unusual influenza-like illnesses, particularly in travellers returning from Mexico.

Laboratory Testing:

- Provincial and territorial laboratories have been asked to send any unidentifiable influenza viruses and samples from patients with severe respiratory illnesses to Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, which is now operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week


The Public Health Agency advises Canadians to:

- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer

- Cough and sneeze in your arm or sleeve

- Keep doing what you normally do, but stay home if sick

- Check the www.fightflu.ca for more information

- Check www.voyage.gc.ca for travel notices and advisories

- Talk to a health professional if you experience flu-like symptoms

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Public Health Agency of Canada
    Andrew McDermott
    Media Relations
    613-941-8189