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Health Unit assures public:Migrant workers are being well screened for flu

SIMCOE, ON, MAY 1, 2009 – Migrant workers from Mexico are being well screened for the flu before entering Canada, assures the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit.

“Some residents in Haldimand and Norfolk are expressing concern that the farm workers coming to our area from Mexico may be a risk of bringing the new strain of H1N1 flu that is circulating there, but there is an extensive screening system in place,” said Communicable Disease Program Coordinator Cathy Lanni. “Both federal and provincial government agencies are involved in this process.”

Workers are screened three times: once at a private clinic by doctors approved by the Canadian Embassy in Mexico, again by a Ministry of Health doctor at the Mexican General Coordination of National Employment Service where they file their papers to leave the country, and once more at the airport one day prior to their departure date.

“Since most of the cases in Mexico are located in Mexico City, this helps limits the possible exposure of the workers to the disease,” Lanni noted. “We had evidence this week that the system is working, because a farmer reported to us that one of his workers was not allowed to leave Mexico due to a cough.”

The seasonal workers’ program in Canada is worth millions of dollars to the Mexican economy and the Mexican government is aware of its value to the country and would not do anything to jeopardize the program, she pointed out.

The Canadian government is confident the Mexican screening process is effective and, therefore, there are no restrictions on farm workers coming from Mexico. As a precaution, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has sent out an information package to all of the farmers in Haldimand and Norfolk who employ Mexican workers. Included in the package is an information sheet in Spanish for the workers.

For more information on the N1H1 flu, see the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Units website, www.hnhu.org and click on the flu alert button.

Media contact: Robert Roth, Communications Coordinator, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit,
519-426-6170 Ext. 3259 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3259, robert.roth@hnhu.org