Flu levels off in parts of Canada, officials say

Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:39pm EST
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The H1N1 flu pandemic has hit a plateau in parts of Canada, but the overall numbers of hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise, health officials said on Wednesday.

In the week ended November 14, the flu hospitalized 1,674 people and killed 84 people in Canada, officials said. But they also said they have noticed fewer positive flu tests and fewer outbreaks in schools in some areas of the country.

The most compelling signs that the flu is leveling off are in the Pacific Coast province of British Columbia, which began vaccinating its population earliest, and the northern territories, where a high percentage of the small population has got the shot, said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer.

Overall, one-quarter of Canadians have been immunized. Five to 10 percent of the population has been infected.

Lineups for flu vaccine, which lasted for hours in many cities earlier this month, have dwindled dramatically.

"We can't be complacent," Butler-Jones said. "This is not something that is trivial."

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Peter Galloway)

<p>The French family from Young's Point waits for H1N1 vaccinations, administered by Peterborough Health Unit, held at a branch of Royal Canadian Legion in rural Lakefield Ontario, October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill</p>