Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Location of three H1N1 cases kept quiet

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MANITOBA has had three confirmed cases of H1N1 since Sept. 1 -- but there has been no public health reason compelling enough to make public where they occurred, say Manitoba Health officials.

There were three cases between Sept. 1 and Oct. 12, the latest date for which reports are available.

One case was reported in each of the weeks of Sept. 8, Sept. 15 and Sept. 22.

Health officials have not provided details or commented on the unusually high levels of absenteeism reported Friday at three rural schools: Ashern Early Years School in Lakeshore School Division, and in Turtle River S.D.'s Alonsa Collegiate and Grass River School in Glenella.

Education Minister Peter Bjornson directed school divisions this week to post daily updates on their websites of school-by-school absentee rates, either usual or higher than usual.

The two divisions' superintendents have not been available to comment.

Manitoba Health says there must be a compelling public health reason to identify any community or institution where illness occurs.

"Reporting unusual levels of absenteeism doesn't change the way that we report on lab-confirmed cases of H1N1," a provincial heath official said.

"They're posted on our website weekly (no new cases in the week ending Oct. 12), but we do not identify communities (including schools, facilities, etc.) unless there is a public health reason to do so."

About 80 per cent of the province's school divisions are providing daily reports of absenteeism on their websites, and the rest are expected to begin posting by early this week.

 

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2009 A4

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