H1N1 at Kwantlen

By Denny Hollick [Co-ordinating Editor]

Kwantlen has been gearing up their plans to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus on campus in case of a major outbreak in the near future. The H1N1 virus has been at the centre of media controversy and has officially been declared as a world pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Heath Canada and B.C. health authorities, it was first discovered on Apr. 24, 2009 in Winnipeg, Canada, and it mixes swine, bird, and human strains of the flu. The symptoms are very similar to that of the regular flu (cough, fever, fatigue etc.) but people have no natural immunity to the virus.

A second outbreak of the virus is expected according to the WHO, and the number people infected will increase as the flu season approaches its peak. Although some cases are severe and can lead to death, most people who acquire the flu have minor cases. Most cases in Canada of the flu are likely to be the H1N1 virus, in which 89 people have died as a result. But to put this in perspective, there are nearly 400 to 800 flu or pneumonia related deaths during the regular flu season according to Health Canada.

Kwantlen’s Emergency Management Committee has developed an influenza virus exposure control plan in case a major outbreak at Kwantlen occurs and has put in measures to prevent the spread of the flu. Most recently, Kwantlen purchased several hand sanitizing stations to be placed in high traffic areas around campus. According to their communications with staff, they are encouraging everyone to use the sanitizers on a regular basis and to contact Healthlink BC if you experience and symptoms by dialling 8-1-1.
Further Kwantlen has developed an influenza exposure control plan which is available on their website. The plan outlines the importance of promoting hygiene on campus, vaccinations, discusses measures to decontaminate the campus as well as under what circumstances the school may be shut down.

Other universities across Canada have gone as far as to provide vaccination clinics for students, including Ryerson University. According to The Eyeopener, the Ryerson student newspaper, students will be offered free vaccination clinics to prevent an outbreak on campus. Matt Demers, a journalism student at Ryerson who is recovering from the virus says “They’re offering it for free and it’s going to be right here at the university, so there’s no excuse not to take it.”

Kwantlen at this time has not outlined any plans in its reports to hold any vaccination clinics for students and staff, but will rather be directing them to local clinics where they are available. It is not known the number of people that will actually seek out vaccinations in Canada at this moment. The Runner attempted to contact Mo Bual, Manager of Occupational Health and Safety to comment on their plans but he was not available at the time.

As always, health officials continue to press the importance of washing hands on a regular basis, sneezing in to your arm, and staying home when you suspect you may be sick.

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