TORONTO -- Canadians should avoid becoming complacent about the H1N1 flu virus, which is unpredictable and could stage a big comeback in the new year, says Canada's chief public health officer.
In the final federal briefing of the year on the pandemic virus on Tuesday, Dr. David-Butler Jones said a third wave of H1N1 flu could easily sweep across Canada in the coming months.
Still, the rate of new infections seems to be dropping, based on hospitalizations, with declines being reported in all provinces and territories.
During the week ending Dec. 5, 307 people were admitted to hospital, compared to 804 the previous week; there were 83 ICU admissions versus 139 a week earlier; and 33 people died, compared to 56 the week before.
The latest figures available show that 8,102 Canadians have been hospitalized because of complications related to H1N1 flu. The virus has caused 390 deaths in Canada overall.
Butler-Jones said although the rate of new cases appears to be falling, the 60 per cent of Canadians who have not yet been immunized should roll up their sleeves for a shot.
"During the holiday period, when Canadians are gathering with families and friends, these are ideal settings for the transmission of H1 and other infections," he said, stressing that young children, those with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women are at high risk of complications.
-- The Canadian Press