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Message to students re: A/H1N1 (swine flu)

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Published: 5 May 2009

A message from Morton Mendelson , Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning)

The worldwide outbreak of A/H1N1 Flu (formerly called swine flu), which threatens to become a pandemic, has raised questions about how people can best protect themselves and how the flu might affect McGill’s operations.

The University remains fully open, and summer classes are proceeding as scheduled.

First, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to remember the basic precautions to take with any flu-like illness: wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, try to cough or sneeze into your forearm instead of your hands, and visit a health-care professional if you begin to exhibit symptoms of the illness. These simple actions have proven effective in helping limit the spread of the virus.

If you do feel you are ill and should stay home, please follow normal procedures required for an absence from work or from missing classes.

The number of reported cases in Canada will undoubtedly climb, and we will see more cases here in Quebec and/or in Montreal. This should come as no surprise and is not a cause for panic. So far, virtually all cases of the flu outside Mexico have been mild and have not required hospitalization.

Nonetheless, public health authorities from the World Health Organization on down, including those at McGill, are treating this potential pandemic very seriously.

Second, students who are new to McGill should note that the University does have health services available. At the downtown campus, they are located in the Brown Building at the intersection of McTavish St. and Avenue Docteur Penfield (Suite 3300, Brown Building, 3600 McTavish). More information is available at the Student Health Services website.

At the Macdonald campus, health services will close after May 7, but student services will remain open and can help refer students who have a medical emergency. These services can be found in the Centennial Centre, Room CC1-124 or (514) 398-7992.

As of Monday, April 27, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada recommended that people postpone elective or non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice. Because Mexico is, as a result, now considered a Level 3 country by the Canadian government, McGill guidelines on restriction of travel to Level 3 countries apply and mean the University cannot support student travel to Mexico for University-related activities.

More information on the government’s travel advisory can be found at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (supply URL) or at the Public Health Agency of Canada (supply URL).

The University remains in very close contact with public health officials and our fellow Quebec universities to ensure we have all the current information so we can take whatever steps are needed to minimize any effects in the McGill community. The University is actively working to deal with questions and problems raised by this situation regarding all aspects of the University’s functioning.

It is too early to know how widespread or how serious this outbreak will become, so it is too early know what effects the flu outbreak might have on the University’s operations in the coming weeks. We will continue to keep you informed through notes such as this one and very visible announcements on the McGill home page, and through the myMcGill portal. 

In the meantime, MORE INFORMATION about A/H1N1, including its symptoms and how to help avoid it, can be found on McGill’s health and wellness site. A series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions is posted there and will be expanded in the coming days.

You may also address questions to info [dot] mcgill [at] mcgill [dot] ca, and someone will respond to you promptly.

Here is wishing you a safe, healthy summer.

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