Five new cases of swine flu — recently renamed Influenza A (H1N1) — have been confirmed in the Lower Mainland, bringing the total number of infected British Columbians to 11.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski, with the B.C. Centre For Disease Control, said on Thursday that more cases are expected.

“We are not at a pandemic level and this is still a mild illness outside of Mexico,” she said. “But we don’t want to be complacent. This is still an influenza virus … Hospitalization and death can occur.”

Meanwhile, Japan’s first suspected case of H1N1 is a 17-year-old high school student who returned last weekend from British Columbia, where more than one third of Canadian H1N1 flu cases have been confirmed.

Skowronski said this could indicate a superior level of surveillance here.

“We have a centralized laboratory testing … and a sophisticated system for alerting physicians, so I think we’re (identifying cases) more,” she said.

“We do (provincial) testing at the B.C. centre for disease control (unlike) other provinces that have to send tests to Winnipeg.”

Skowronski added that B.C. is well prepared for the possibility of a pandemic.

“Having said that, you can’t be perfectly prepared for something like this, especially an influenza pandemic which is changing and nuanced.”

She also advised anyone with a fever and a cough to take the week off and isolate themselves.

“If you do need to see a physician, please call ahead so they can take appropriate infection control precautions.”

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