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Frequently Asked Questions

ABOUT H1N1: If you think you have it


1. What is Influenza A (H1N1) flu?

H1N1 is a new pandemic strain of influenza A that is spreading around the world in 2009. It is spread from human to human by respiratory droplets. In most cases, it causes typical influenza symptoms.

There have been several fatalities attributed to H1N1 worldwide; however, the disease is usually mild in healthy adults.

2. What are the symptoms?

3. What should I do if I think I have H1N1?

Avoid contact with others as much as possible. Stay home from work or school for at least seven days after the onset of illness, or until at least 24 hours after symptoms have disappeared, whichever is longer.

Rest, care for yourself and seek medical attention only if your symptoms become severe. More information on treating H1N1 and when to get help is available here.

All members of the Memorial community who are ill are asked to stay home. More information on absences for students, staff and faculty.


1. How is H1N1 influenza spread?

The H1N1 virus is contagious and is spread from human to human, much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

People who have the flu usually cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose, creating droplets in the air which contain the virus. Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets or getting them in their nose or mouth or from hand to hand transmission.

Flu droplets do not persist in the air but settle quickly to a surface, where they can remain virulent for up to 48 hours. It is possible to contract H1N1 by touching contaminated surfaces such as a desk, keyboard, phone or doorknob.

2. How long can an infected person spread the H1N1 virus to others?

People with H1N1 influenza virus should be considered potentially contagious as long as they have symptoms; possibly for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might be contagious for longer periods.

3. How can I avoid getting H1N1 from people and surfaces?

See Prevention, below.

4. Is it possible to catch H1N1 flu from someone without flu symptoms?

We don’t know for sure. We do know people are most contagious for up to one day before they get sick and for five days while symptomatic.


1. How will Memorial communicate with me?

Memorial University has a Communications Committee, including health experts, who will be monitoring the H1N1 situation continually and will keep the university community informed via this website, emails and other mediums, such as news media and posters, as deemed necessary.

Students, faculty and staff are advised to check their email accounts —or, or accounts—regularly for important information.

2. What steps is the university taking to respond to H1N1 flu?

University administrators charged with emergency preparedness and responding to health issues have developed precautionary measures to address this ongoing issue. Memorial has established a university-wide team to ensure that the university is fully prepared to act rapidly as conditions evolve. Plans to ensure academic and business continuity, and to ensure essential services remain operational, are in place.

3. Is Memorial going to cancel or change plans for winter session or other activities?

A university-wide team is following the latest advice from public health experts. At this time, no changes have been made to winter session or planned programs and events. Anyone with flu-like symptoms and fever is urged to stay at home. People in high-risk categories, especially pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, may wish to consider taking precautionary steps and avoiding crowded places.

As usual, cancellations will be posted on MUN's website.

4. Will the university identify individuals who test positive so people know to avoid them?

Personal health information is private and the University is not able to release the identity of an individual receiving medical treatment; it would be a violation of Federal Health Privacy Rules.

Please read information regarding confidentiality of information.


Prevention begins with you!

1. What should people do daily to improve their immune system?

Contribute to building a strong, healthy immune system by following these daily guidelines:

Eat Healthy – Enjoy a variety of foods from all food groups each day. Choose lower fat foods more often. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Get Active – Add physical activity into your daily routine; even simple steps like taking the stairs or walking across campus will boost your health. Choosing activities you like to do is the best way to make physical activity a regular part of your life.

Wash Your Hands Proper hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of illness. Wash your hands before eating, after using the washroom, and after coughing or sneezing. Use warm, soapy water and lather for 15 to 20 seconds.

Get enough rest - Adequate sleep is essential for a healthy immune system.

REMEMBER: Hand sanitizers can be used when access to warm water and soap is not readily available. The best hand sanitizers to use are those which contain alcohol, with recommended 60-90% alcohol content as these are the most effective; gel sanitizers may also be used. These products are available for your use in various supermarkets and drug stores.

See the proper way to sanitize hands

2. How can I practice good hygiene?

Always Clean, Cover and Contain

Hand hygiene is the single most important measure for preventing the spread of infections. Students and staff are encouraged to practice hand hygiene frequently: either washing their hands with soap and warm running water for at least 15 seconds or using a 60-90 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

3. What can I do to prevent myself from getting H1N1?

The best way to avoid getting any flu or cold virus is to keep your hands clean. Ensuring you have clean hands prevents you from then putting the virus on your nose or on your eyes or your mouth, where it generally comes into contact with your body and can cause the infection.

Obviously the other way to avoid getting the flu is to avoid people who are sick, coughing or sneezing.

4. What additional cleaning precautions can I take in to help prevent the transmission of H1N1?

We all have to take extra responsibility for minimizing the likelihood of contracting the H1N1 virus. Avoid touching high traffic areas with our hands. If you must touch these surfaces, avoid putting your hands near your face until you have washed with warm water and soap. It is advisable to also carry your own bottle of hand sanitizer with you, or keep it at your work station.

As an extra precaution, wipe down any work or study areas used or touched by others prior to touching the areas yourself.

Examples of high traffic areas across campus include:

· Push bars on doors
· Door handles
· Light switches
· Taps and sinks
· Photocopier handle and buttons
· Buttons on the printers and faxes
· Handrails in the stairwells
· Fridge handles in cafeterias
· Counters including reception areas, cafeterias, social facilities, etc.
· Telephone receivers, keyboards, and computer mouse devices
· Fitness equipment in athletic facilities
· All tables, desks and lecterns

5. Are there any other preventative measures in addition to hand washing?

Yes, one should do the following:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Or if you do not have tissues cover your cough or sneeze with the crook of your arm or your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread that way.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you must be in close contact with people who are sick, take precautions and make sure to use proper hand washing techniques after contact.
  • Avoid shaking other people’s hands. If you must shake hands with someone, avoid touching your face before using hand sanitizer or washing your hands.
  • If you get sick, stay at home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Don’t go to work, class or other gatherings, and encourage friends, family, and co-workers to do the same.
  • Medication to help mitigate the severity of illness is available for those with very serious health problems and compromised immune systems. Pregnant women should also contact their clinician if they are exposed.
  • Follow all public health advice regarding school/university closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or more: have stocked a supply of food, over-the-counter medicines to treat fever and aches, alcohol-based hand rubs, juices, tissues and other items that might be useful. This can help you avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious. (See the next question for a more detailed list.)

6. Are there items everyone should have at home to be prepared if they get sick with H1N1 or general influenza?

It is advisable to have the following items on hand:

  • A thermometer to check for fever
  • Fever reducer such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Decongestant
  • Cough drops
  • A supply of tea, water, Gatorade, soup, crackers
  • Facial tissues
  • Disposable surgical masks
  • Purell or other 60 per cent alcohol or more based hand sanitizer
  • Lysol or Clorox disinfecting wipes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cool mist vaporizer
  • Multivitamins

7. How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled on campus?

Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but it is important these items not be shared without washing thoroughly first.

Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils used by an ill individual should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with hot water and soap; they do not have to be washed separately.

8. Should individuals wear masks on campus?

There is no evidence that the use of masks in general public settings will be protective when the virus is circulating widely in the community. However, there will be areas of the university, the Health Science Centre, for example, and Student Health Services, where our students and staff will follow the requirements for healthcare environments and masks may be used for personal protection. The use of good hygiene practices is recommended in keeping with the Clean, Cover and Contain campaign. The university is not considered to be a hospital/healthcare setting.

9. How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus?

To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, individuals should wash their hands using the recommended hand washing method after handling garbage.

When emptying the garbage bin containers, the garbage bags should be removed and discarded daily as well. Reusing garbage bags is strongly discouraged.

10. What should be done if someone who is obviously sick comes to the University?

  • As with other forms of the flu or contagious illnesses such as colds, maintaining a reasonable distance from the person is a starting point.
  • Do not shake hands or make other physical contact.
  • Offer a Kleenex or ask the person to cover their mouth and nose with the crook of their arm if they should need to cough or sneeze.
  • Use a sanitary wipe after the person has left to wipe those areas of your work station that the person has touched.
  • There may be situations in which the meeting can be rescheduled to a time when the person is feeling better or the business can be conducted by phone or e-mail. Do not hesitate to offer this suggestion if it is appropriate.

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1. Is there a vaccine for H1N1 influenza?

Yes. The vaccine for H1N1 is now available and being administered widely.

Please note that at this point the H1N1 vaccine will NOT be available through the campus student health clinic.

2. Is the vaccine safe?

Please refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada's information on the risks and benefits of the vaccine.

3. If a student is studying overseas this fall, how can they access the vaccine?

The availability of vaccine varies from country to country. Students overseas this fall are advised to contact the nearest Canadian consulate for information.

For public health information, go to:

Provincial Government information on H1N1 Influenza Virus

Eastern Health News on H1N1

Western Health News on H1N1


1. What can I do as a student if I am going to be absent from class?

You should contact your instructor via email to advise that you will be absent and discuss the possibility of alternate arrangements with respect to the academic programming that would be completed during your period of absenteeism. This may include electronic access to materials via email or the web, as well as a plan to complete materials, exams, assignments, labs, etc.

2. Will students have to obtain a medical note if they are ill?

The policy Memorial University implemented in September of 2009, with respect to the relaxation of medical notes for students who may experience influenza like illness, and the ability for students to self-report such illness, will no longer be in effect. Individual faculties/schools will revert to normal practices with respect to any requirements for medical notes related to academic leniency effective January 5, 2010. For more information, please speak with your instructor.

3. Will Memorial close completely or cancel classes due to H1N1 on campus?

There is no evidence to suggest that closing the university would help stop the spread of the virus, as individuals would continue to congregate in public areas. Memorial plans to remain open with a potential for a reduction in programs and services.

The Memorial team responsible the H1N1 response will follow the guidance of public health officials.

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Nov. 10 - Message to Parents about H1N1 at Memorial

Parent Orientation Video: H1N1 Information Session with Dr. Norman Lee

1. Will the Student Health Centre call parents if a student has a flu-like illness, or confirmed case of H1N1?

Memorial cannot share medical information with parents of students 18 years of age or older, unless authorized by the student to do so.

If the student is a minor, the parent will be notified.

If a student is taken to the hospital, the Student Health Centre or another college official will notify the student’s emergency contact. Students and parents are encouraged to update emergency contact information regularly.

2. Are there items a student could have in their apartment or residence to be prepared if they get sick with H1N1 or other influenza?

It is advisable for students to bring the following items as a preventative measure should H1N1 or other influenza virus be present on campus:

  • A thermometer to check for fever
  • Fever reducer such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Decongestant
  • Cough drops
  • A supply of tea, water, Gatorade, soup, crackers
  • Facial tissues
  • Disposable surgical masks
  • Purell or other 60 per cent alcohol or more based hand sanitizer
  • Lysol or Clorox disinfecting wipes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cool mist vaporizer
  • Multivitamins

3. What other planning should students and parents do?

It is very important for students living away from home to develop a plan. Some of the following items should be considered while planning for a pandemic:

  • Ensure the university has your updated emergency contact information.
  • Develop a plan to get home if you get sick with a flu-like illness
  • Determine how you will care for someone in the family and what will be needed at home to do that.
  • Write a communication plan for the family, put family phone numbers in your cell phone, as well as the phone number of your family doctor.
  • Get a list of faculty contact information and keep it in a safe place, share a copy with family for easy access at home.
  • Purchase a supply of over the counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Talk to your physician now about antiviral therapy if exposed.
  • Plan to get a vaccination this fall.

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1. How do I advise the university that I am unable to report to work due to H1N1 related illness?

You are required to contact your supervisor prior to the beginning of each scheduled work day to advise of your inability to report for work. Upon return to work, please submit a Reason for Absence Form to your supervisor for approval. Please indicate illness as your reason for absence.

While it is not required, for statistical purposes, the University encourages employees to indicate if they had H1N1 virus.

2. Will I be required to provide medical documentation explaining my absence from work due H1N1 related illness?

Yes. Effective December 22, 2009, employees who are absent from work due to H1N1 related illness are required to complete a “Reason for Absence Form” and provide medical documentation in accordance with the respective Collective Agreement or The Handbook for Non Bargaining Unit employees. Employees with the H1N1 virus are requested to stay home from work until their symptoms are gone and they feel well enough to participate in work activities.

3. Will I continue to receive my pay in the event of a H1N1 pandemic and potential reduced payroll services in the Department of Human Resources?

Yes. Employees who receive biweekly salaried pay will continue to be paid as usual. There will be no interruption in pay. Less routine payroll functions, such as changes to rates of pay, payment for temporary assignments or step adjustments may be temporarily delayed for processing. The Department of Human Resources has a plan in place to ensure that employees who are paid by miscellaneous time reports will continue to be paid in a timely manner.
4. Will I be required to perform different or additional duties during an H1N1 pandemic?

In the event that critical university services are not being met due to employee absences, the University may ask employees to take on different or additional duties. This reassignment of duties is voluntary and would only take place in consultation with the Department of Human Resources.

5. What options are available for me for leave to care for dependant family member(s) residing in the same household who become ill with H1N1 virus?

The University acknowledges the challenges employees may face in caring for dependant family members, residing in the same household, who become ill with H1N1 virus, and for this reason will make allowances for how leave is used. The usual family responsibility leave provisions will apply in accordance with the respective Collective Agreement or The Handbook for Non Bargaining Unit employees. If this is not possible because employees have used all available family responsibility leave they will have the option to:
  • use their vacation entitlement or current vacation accrual


  • take time off without pay for up to a maximum of thirty days


  • take time off with pay and make up the hours over a defined period of time agreeable to the departmental supervisor


  • work from home if the supervisor deems that the work is suitable for this type of an arrangement.
The options listed above are subject to preapproval by the employee’s supervisor.

6. How can the University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider support me and my family in dealing with the stresses that an H1N1 pandemic may create?

The University has contracted Medavie Blue Cross, in association with Shepell-fgi, to provide EAP support to employees on an ongoing basis. Their usual counseling services include assistance with issues around grief and anxiety. In the event of a pandemic, the EAP can provide trauma intervention for groups of employees who have experienced a traumatic event such as the loss of a co-worker.

The EAP website provides links to a variety of H1N1 information resources at and the EAP Phone number is: 1-866-347-2067

7. Can my supervisor send me home if he/she suspects I have H1N1 virus?

Yes. Employees are ultimately responsible for managing their own individual health and to go or stay home from work if they are exhibiting H1N1 virus symptoms. However, when they choose to come to work ill, they place other employees at risk of also becoming ill. For this reason, supervisors have a responsibility to discuss it with employees should this situation arise and require ill employees to go home on sick leave. Employees are to report back to work when they have been symptom free of the H1N1 virus for a 24 hour period.

8. With my supervisor’s approval, is it possible to work from home?

Yes. The University is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees while striving to maintain adequate services levels during an H1N1 virus pandemic. Employees are required to continue to report for work at their usual work location.

Supervisors will assess the suitability for certain positions in their unit to work from home. Those employees whose positions allow for such a temporary flexible work arrangement will first require approval by the department supervisor to work from home.


1. Should I postpone my travel?

The University currently has no travel restrictions in place. All students, faculty and staff who will be travelling outside the country are advised (always) to check with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in order to obtain the most up-to-date travel reports.

Travellers should also check with their public health authorities for any local advice. World Health Organization (WHO) advises that people who are ill delay travel plans. Returning travellers who become ill should contact their health care provider.

2. What precautions can I take prior to travelling outside the country?

International travel provides great opportunities to gain valuable education and cross-cultural experiences. However, travel always involves some risk.

You should research the area you plan to travel prior to departing to ensure you are best prepared for any emergency that could arise.

The University has prepared a Pre-Departure Checklist, which all students must complete prior to travel. The checklist is also a useful planning tool for faculty and staff.

While H1N1 is a newer threat, it is not the only illness that you may be exposed to while travelling. It is critical that you consider your own protocol to put in place to enable you to confront health-related risks and provide you with the basic means of addressing illness if it develops.

  • Visit Canada's travel warning website: to check the country of your destination or any countries;
  • Have a health insurance plan which covers trip cancellation; repatriation/air evacuation in case of critical illness or death; parental/partner bedside visits to host country in case of critical illness; follow-up care (home care, hospital care); medical emergencies arising from or related to pre-existing medical conditions; travel to locales for which Canada has issued a travel warning;
  • Ensure that you and your family members have the contact information readily available in case of emergency;
  • Research recommended hospitals at your destination and how to call an ambulance or otherwise obtain emergency medical attention in your destination country;
  • Will you need to pay for the medical costs upfront? Ensure you have adequate financial resources in case of an emergency;
  • Visit your family doctor/clinic for advice on preventing/managing illness while travelling abroad and receive all necessary vaccinations and medications. Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions to your doctor;
  • Also, consider getting an H1N1 vaccination (as well as any other vaccinations you require) in advance of leaving Canada;
  • Identify a local contact: someone who will advocate for you, and with whom you will share personal contact information should you contract any illness, for purpose of helping you seek medical care and follow-up care;
  • Know how to obtain medical attention in the event of any serious illness/injury;
  • If you are planning on taking an excursion to another country aside from your primary destination, be informed as to that country’s health system and how to access emergency health care there;
  • Register your information with the Department of Foreign Affairs and sign up to receive their listserve messages while you are abroad
  • Have a communications plan in place with home and the University should you become ill or are quarantined; work terms or externally funded internships;
  • Carry phone numbers/emails of anyone else that needs to be contacted should you be unable to attend classes or work.

3. Where can I find out about travel advisories related to H1N1?

The Public Health Agency of Canada issues travel advisories and warnings. To view the latest travel warning and for further information, visit the
Public Health Agency of Canada.

4. Is it possible the Canadian borders will be closed at some point due to H1N1, stranding someone outside?

This is highly unlikely. Health officials say it is far too late to prevent H1N1 flu from entering the country — it’s already here. Closing the borders would have little impact on the spread of the virus, and could disrupt supplies from coming into and leaving the country.

5. What can travellers expect when travelling to/from an H1N1 infected area?

Be advised that airport staff in some countries may check the health and screen for symptoms of arriving passengers. Screening procedures vary widely from country to country. Investigate your destinations before you leave.

Be advised that airport staff in some countries may check the health and screen for symptoms of arriving passengers. Screening procedures vary widely from country to country. Investigate your destinations before you leave.

For updates on the global H1N1 situation and travel screening, see the Centre for Disease Control H1N1 and Travel website.

6. If a student is studying overseas this fall, how can they get access to the vaccine?

The availability of vaccine varies from country to country. Students overseas this fall are advised to contact the nearest Canadian consulate for information.

7. What guidance is there for university offices hosting visitors to campus?

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not believe entry and exit screenings would work to reduce the spread of this disease. WHO advises that although identifying signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can help track the path of the outbreak, it will not reduce the spread of influenza, as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms.WHO notes that scientific research based on mathematical modelling shows that restricting travel would be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease.

Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, validate this.WHO advises that countries adopting measures that significantly interfere with international traffic (e.g., delaying an airplane passenger for more than 24 hours, or refusing country entry or departure to a traveller) must provide WHO with the public health reasoning and evidence for their actions. Travellers should always be treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.

We encourage university offices and departments to remind their campus visitors to heed information provided by Health Authorities as they consider travelling, and to consult a physician before travelling if they have symptoms of illness. All visitors should follow infection-control steps, including covering your mouth and nose if you have a cough or sneeze. Frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers also is recommended for all visitors to campus.

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