City not ready: Expert

The city is coming under fire for its pandemic preparedness as health officials Thursday confirmed four more Calgarians have contracted cases of swine flu.

The city is coming under fire for its pandemic preparedness as health officials Thursday confirmed four more Calgarians have contracted cases of swine flu.

Dr. Pat Pitsel, whose Calgary-based consulting firm advises municipalities and businesses on how to manage outbreaks, said the city should take the lead on planning but seems to be leaving it up to the provincial and federal governments.

“All the health stuff is in the hands of the health region but there are so many other factors — there is a lack of real preparedness,” she said.

“If we get a flu that’s sweeping over the city, I don’t know if they’re really ready for it — they seem to have a strategy but nothing like a plan.”

The virus, now dubbed influenza A (H1N1) by the World Health Organization, has now been found in six Albertans, including four young Calgarians — three men and a woman —who recently returned from a trip to Mexico.

Pitsel said the outbreak is worrying because it is spread before those infected have symptoms and if it mutates, it could take similar characteristics to the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed in excess of 20 million people worldwide.

With many of the responsibilities for dealing with an outbreak falling to Alberta Health Services and other agencies, Pitsel fears too many loose ends will be left untied if the virus takes the same deadly turn as it did in Mexico.

Tom Sampson, the city’s deputy chief of emergency management, didn’t return calls Thursday but a memo said Calgary’s emergency plan has been partially activated and an infectious disease outbreak team is preparing city facilities to deal with the virus spreading.

It also indicates the city is not the lead agency and its primary role is “to ensure municipal services continue to operate during any outbreak.”

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart raised concerns about the city’s readiness two years ago and said with the new threat those fears have not been quelled.

 
 
Latest From ...
Most Popular From ...