National Webcast Addresses Youths’ H1N1 Concerns

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 12:13



Closing schools should not be considered the first option when dealing with an outbreak of H1N1 on First Nation communities.


That was one message that came out of a “virtual summit” on H1N1 preparedness for First Nations communities earlier this week.


Dr. David Butler-Jones of Health Canada was one member of the panel of experts who answered questions about H1N1 in a nation-wide webcast.


Butler-Jones says public health officials do not recommend that communities close down schools during a pandemic.


He says closing schools turns a controlled situation into an uncontrolled one.


“One of the challenges with closing schools is you take a controlled situation — where the kids are in school, where if they do become sick, they’re recognized, contact can be made with caregivers, etc., or they can be taught and supported in terms of reducing the spread of infection. Once you close the school and the kids are out there, the kids still play, they still visit, so the chances of reducing the spread of infection are actually very small,” Butler-Jones says.


First Nations youth were the target audience of Tuesday’s summit.


A youth forum raised issues and concerns about the H1N1 flu virus, and the panel answered them.


Federal Health Minister Leona Akluukaq and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo co-hosted the event.


The Buffalo River Dene Nation School in northern Saskatchewan re-opened yesterday, after closing for two-and-a-half weeks due to H1N1 concerns.