The North Bay Nugget
May 1, 2009

Health officials expect the World Health Organization to raise its alert to the highest level indicating a pandemic outbreak of the swine flu, says the area’s top doctor.

[efoods]As part of its pandemic plan, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is preparing to set up flu centres in North Bay, Parry Sound, Mattawa, Sturgeon Falls and Burk’s Falls in the event of an outbreak in the area, Dr. Jim Chirico, medical officer of health, said at a news conference Thursday.

This will take a lot of the pressure off of family doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency departments. We’re working with all of those involved,” Chirico said, noting people would be assessed at the centres and either transferred home or to a hospital.

Thirty-four mild cases of the H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in Canada as of Thursday. Chirico said some people have sought medical help in the district, although there are currently no confirmed cases.

Local flu centres would be set up if emergency departments are overwhelmed by cases, and patients cannot be treated with antiviral drugs within 12 to 24 hours of experiencing symptoms.

There are eight confirmed infections in southern Ontario, and Chirico said medical officers of health are concerned hospital emergency departments there are already becoming overwhelmed.

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