Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

H1N1 Roundup

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"ö Six rural schools reported higher-than-usual levels of absences Thursday, three of them in Lakeshore School Division: Ashern Central, Ashern Early Years and Inwood schools.

Also reporting higher-than-usual levels were Green Valley School in Grunthal; Rosenort School in Red River Valley S.D.; and Alonsa School in Turtle River S.D.

No Winnipeg schools have reported unusual absences since Education Minister Peter Bjornson directed school divisions to post daily reports on their websites more than two weeks ago.

"ö The federal government came under heavy criticism from the opposition Liberals, who say delays in rolling out the national vaccination program are costing lives.

Liberal MP Bob Rae told Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq that people have died due to delays in ordering and distributing the vaccines and warns more lives will be lost.

Industry Minister Tony Clement fielded the bulk of Rae's criticism, saying six million doses of pandemic vaccine will be delivered nationwide by today.

So far, 89 people have died from the H1N1 virus and more than 1,600 have been hospitalized.

"ö Toronto residents are the latest to clamour for the H1N1 flu vaccine.

Lineups began as early as 6 a.m. Thursday as two immunization clinics opened. By mid-afternoon, officials were sending newcomers home while promising that those already in line would get their shots. At a clinic west of the city, the high demand even forced road closures.

"ö Vaccination programs continued to roll out across Canada.

Officials with Alberta Health Services say demand continues to exceed expectations, with people in Edmonton and Calgary waiting upward of five hours to get vaccinated.

In Manitoba, more than 67,000 people have been vaccinated, including some 2,200 people who visited Winnipeg's 12 flu clinics as of Tuesday afternoon.

Nova Scotia officials said the flu's so-called second wave has arrived in that province, with 80 new cases so far this fall.

In British Columbia, where the second wave is widely acknowledged to have struck first, three more people with the H1N1 virus have died in the past week.

In Saskatchewan, the Sun Country Health Region in the province's southeast is opening a flu assessment site in the town of Estevan to ease the burden of H1N1 on emergency rooms. More than half of the 50 confirmed H1N1 cases in the region involve children under 15.

"ö A new U.S. study suggests drugs used to help lower cholesterol may also be effective in treating swine flu.

The study looked at people who had been hospitalized for seasonal flu symptoms and found that those on statin drugs such as Lipitor or Zocor were twice as likely to survive as those who were not.

More studies are needed to determine whether statins can cure the flu or whether it's worth taking them after becoming infected.

Results were discussed Thursday at an Infectious Diseases Society of America conference in Philadelphia.

-- From the wire services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2009 A4

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