OTTAWA -- The federal government will launch a public awareness campaign today to inform Canadians about the H1N1 flu as the number of cases in Canada climbed to 34 and the number of worldwide cases surpassed 270.
On Thursday, 15 new cases of the influenza virus were confirmed in Canada -- four in Alberta, four in Nova Scotia, one in Ontario, five in British Columbia and for the first time, one case in Quebec.
All of the cases are considered mild.
One of the B.C. cases involves an elementary school student in Vernon whose infection has prompted Beairsto Elementary School to close down for the next week. It is the first school closure in Canada due to the illness that is now responsible for killing a dozen people in Mexico and one person in the United States.
Canadian health officials said the new domestic numbers, an increase from 19 confirmed cases on Wednesday, do not affect the federal government's approach to dealing with the spread of the flu across the country and that it is sticking to its plan of surveillance, vaccine development, ensuring antiviral supplies are adequate and that Canadians have the information they need.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there is reason for concern about what he called "the Mexican flu" but that Canadians can be assured governments around the world are responding in an "appropriate and co-ordinated way."
"I believe we are doing what is necessary at the moment," Harper told reporters. "We obviously recommend to the population to follow any warnings or any advisories that are being given by various health authorities, whether they be federal, provincial, or international..." he said.
The worldwide total of cases also rose sharply on Thursday as test results poured in from laboratories testing for the H1N1 virus.
-- Canwest News Service