"Protecting Against Influenza - Is Canada Prepared?"

    OTTAWA, April 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Recent outbreaks of swine flu (H1N1) have
raised questions as to Canada's pandemic preparedness. The Public Health
Agency of Canada (PHAC) works with federal departments and provincial and
territorial governments to develop effective pandemic preparedness strategies
for both the general public and the healthcare communities. There are,
however, many challenges in planning due to gaps in scientific knowledge and
    As such, in February 2007 PHAC charged the following question to the
Council of Canadian Academies (Council): How and where is influenza
transmitted and what contribution can N95 respirators or surgical masks make
to its prevention of transmission? To answer the question, the Council
assembled a 13 member, expert panel chaired by Dr. Don Low, currently Medical
Director of Ontario Public Health Laboratories and Microbiologist-in-Chief at
Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.
    "As an independent panel, we were asked to prepare a report based on the
research and clinical evidence that already exists," Dr. Low said. "Our
conclusions reflect the diverse nature of both the research available and the
learned opinions of our panel members who include experts in virology,
infection control, occupational health and safety, nursing, and evaluation of
protective equipment" (see list of panelists and summary document, the Report
in Focus at: http://scienceadvice.ca/influenza.html).
    The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan (CPIP) for the Health Sector maps
out how Canada is preparing for, and plans to respond to, pandemic influenza.
Annex F of the CPIP deals with infection control and occupational health
guidelines during pandemic influenza in traditional and non-traditional health
care settings. The results of the report were to serve as input to the federal
working group on Annex F who were assembled to update the 2006 version of the
    The panel publically released its report in December 2007. The findings
of the expert panel are available from the Council's website,

    About the Council of Canadian Academies

    The Council of Canadian Academies is a not-for-profit organization whose
mandate is to be a source of independent, expert assessment of the science
underlying pressing issues and matters of public interest. The Council
addresses the broad spectrum of knowledge - encompassing the natural, social
and health sciences, engineering, and the humanities. The primary objective of
the Council is to provide for Canada an independent and authoritative, and
therefore credible, way to build public confidence that policy and regulatory
decisions are being based on broadly-accepted scientific knowledge and

For further information:

For further information: Samantha Rae, Manager, Communications, Council
of Canadian Academies, (613) 567-5000, ext 256, samantha.rae@scienceadvice.ca;
Trina Foster, Program Director, Council of Canadian Academies, (613) 567-5000,
ext 230, trina.foster@scienceadvice.ca

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