The University of Saskatchewan’s Crisis Management Team (CMT) is following the lead of health officials in determining how the institution should respond to the spread of the A(H1N1) influenza virus.
“We’re monitoring developments in this situation on a daily basis,” said Dave Hannah, associate vice-president of student and enrolment services and CMT lead. “We are paying close attention to information being provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and both the federal and provincial departments of health. So far, we felt it was prudent to remind the campus community about basic flu prevention techniques and to address the issue of travel to Mexico but there have not been any changes to the day-to-day operation of the university.”
At the time On Campus News went to press May 6, Saskatchewan Health was reporting no confirmed cases of A(H1N1) influenza in the province. This strain of the virus has been referred to as swine flu or human swine flu but the Canadian Pork Council has suggested those names stigmatize the pork industry. Hannah said the university is using the WHO identification of the virus as A(H1N1).
Information distributed to the campus community on May 1 included recommendations from Saskatchewan Health that, to prevent the spread of the flu, people should wash their hands frequently with soap, cough or sneeze into a tissue or their upper sleeve, and stay at home if flu symptoms develop. Posters produced by the Saskatoon Health Region outlining the same information have been distributed throughout campus, said Hannah.
Hannah said the university is following its international travel risk management policy and suspended travel by students and faculty or other employees accompanying students to Mexico on university business. “This policy is triggered by the WHO pandemic alert level, which is currently at Phase 5 on a six-phase scale,” Hannah said. “We are also advising everyone to reconsider plans they might have for non-business travel to Mexico or other areas affected by the influenza outbreak.”
A key role of the CMT, he said, is ensuring university students and employees have as much current information as possible. To that end, the CMT will be communicating directly with the university community when needed.