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An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that health experts are closely monitoring novel H1N1 influenza infections in Canada's Inuit populations, following reports that the communities are seeing more than their share of severe cases.
Keiji Fukuda, MD, told reporters at a press briefing, "We can say now that we know a larger number than expected of young Inuit people developed serious illnesses and had to get hospitalized."
...The World Health Organization this week stated it is on the verge of declaring the swine flu outbreak a pandemic. Acting assistant director-general, Keiji Fukuda, also said the organization is particularly concerned about the number of flu cases appearing recently within Manitoba's aboriginal population.
...Aboriginal leaders from northeastern Manitoba, part of a group called Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), held a press conference in Winnipeg on Wednesday, saying some communities are already dealing with a pandemic.
...Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is asking the public to limit their visits to hospitals in order to reduce the spread of influenza.
The World Health Organization is on the cusp of declaring a global swine flu pandemic, officials said Thursday as experts convened in an emergency meeting in Geneva.
WHO director general Margaret Chan called the emergency conference call with leading flu experts to discuss the outbreak of the virus, which has spread to 74 countries.
Health officials from Scotland, Indonesia and Thailand said the United Nations health agency would raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 — the highest level — after the teleconference concluded on Thursday. Officials with the UN have also said they expect the declaration of the global pandemic is imminent.
Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said she had been notified by WHO that "today will be declared to be Phase 6."
Harper and other chiefs are calling on the federal government to boost healthcare services and improve housing on reserves.
Many reserve homes are overcrowded, with more than a dozen people living in cramped quarters. Aboriginal leaders say the situation has created an ideal breeding ground for the virus to spread.
On-reserve health care substandard: First Nations
They also say the current level of health care is substandard. Garden Hill shares one doctor with another community and has nurses staffing the health station when the doctor is not around.
Christina Flett said she tried to get help for her son, Peter, several times last week, but was told by the nurses to give the 1½-year-old toddler cold baths and Tylenol.
Peter was eventually flown out by air ambulance and confirmed earlier this week to have swine flu, said Christine, who was part of the MKO press conference.