Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

May 18, 2009 14:54 ET

Government of Canada Continues Vigliance in Addressing H1N1 Flu Virus

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 18, 2009) - The Government of Canada, in consultation with provinces and territories, and international partners, continues to implement a proactive and balanced response to the H1N1 flu virus. Canada's Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, is currently participating in the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, where international governments are actively sharing information and best practices on their responses to this virus.

"The emergence of the H1N1 flu virus last month warranted a strong response in order to gain an understanding of the threat and to take appropriate actions", said Minister Leona Aglukkaq." The knowledge that we have now gained is allowing us to take more targeted measures, including enhanced vigilance and preparation for the Fall flu season."

Government of Canada officials continue to be on heightened alert for surveillance of the H1N1 flu virus, and are actively sharing this information with provincial, territorial, and international partners. Guidelines for front line healthcare workers continue to be reviewed to ensure that the latest information about the virus and its spread is reflected.

"We have been fortunate that this first wave of illness caused by the H1N1 flu virus has been relatively mild and behaves similarly to common seasonal influenza," said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "That said, we will continue to be vigilant in our surveillance and management of this outbreak. There is no room for complacency when it comes to dealing with any flu viruses."

In relation to travel-related measures, the Public Health Agency of Canada issued a travel health notice today advising Canadians that it is no longer recommending postponing non-essential travel to Mexico due to the H1N1 flu virus.

The latest evidence indicates the number of H1N1 influenza cases in Mexico has leveled off and the risk of contracting the virus has decreased. Nearly all cases of H1N1 infection in Canada caused mild illness. With the H1N1 virus circulating within Canada, travel to Mexico is no longer a heightened risk factor for the spread of the virus.

The Agency continues to urge those going to Mexico to take precautions to reduce the risk of getting the flu, including consulting a medical professional prior to departure. This is especially true for high risk travelers including those with underlying medical conditions, children under two years of age, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.

Canada Border Services Agency officials will continue to provide all international travelers entering Canada by land or air with hand-outs that include information about the H1N1 flu virus, what to do to avoid getting ill and steps to take if the traveler experiences symptoms. This practice will continue until necessary based on public health advice. Canada Border Services Agency officials will continue to perform a visual assessment as to whether a traveler appears ill. Public information posters that outline infection control measures such as hand washing will continue to be located in airports.

The Public Health Agency of Canada will be suspending a number Mexico-specific travel measures it had put in place along with the travel warning.

- Health Alert Notices will no longer be distributed to passengers on direct flights to Mexico

- Onboard announcements to passengers on returning direct flights from Mexico will be discontinued;

- Quarantine officers will continue to be available to assess ill passengers, but will no longer meet every direct flight entering Canada from Mexico; and

- Canada Border Services Agency officials will discontinue using additional screening questions related to H1N1 flu virus (such as asking travelers whether they have a fever or cough and if they have been to an affected area)

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to recommend that Canadians take precautions to avoid the spread of the infections such as the flu, both at home and abroad, including:

- 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

For the latest information on the H1N1 flu virus, visit www.fightflu.ca or call 1-800-454-8302.

Contact Information

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