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June 11, 2009
For immediate release

PEI Remains Vigilant as World Health Organization Raises Pandemic Alert Level to Phase Six


Based on an assessment of all available evidence, the World Health Organization announced today they have raised the current level of the influenza pandemic alert from phase five to phase six.

“The move to a phase six does not mean the situation is more severe than it was yesterday, it reflects how wide this virus has spread to countries around the world,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Health Officer for the PEI Department of Health. “We will continue to focus on surveillance, prevention and preparing to care for those who might become ill.”

The Department of Health will continue to take effective and essential measures, which include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases and infection control.

The pandemic assessment scale from the World Health Organization is based primarily on the geographic spread of the disease, not necessarily the severity. The decision to raise the alert level was made in response to evidence of sustained community level transmission in countries outside of North America.

The Department of Health will continue to monitor the spread of the virus in Prince Edward Island to ensure that the health system is prepared for any future increase in illness associated with the virus. The total number of laboratory confirmed cases reported in Prince Edward Island remains at three. All cases were mild and those affected have recovered. No new cases of H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in the province.

Islanders are reminded that everyone can help slow the spread of viruses through prevention. These measures include washing hands thoroughly and often, covering coughs and sneezes with an arm or elbow and staying home if you have flu-like symptoms, which include fever, cough, muscle aches, headaches and sore throat. If symptoms persist, you should seek medical attention. If you need immediate attention, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Media Contact: Laura Jones
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