HALIFAX - The second wave of swine flu has washed across Nova Scotia.
Every health district is now reporting the H1N1 virus with 26 people being hospitalized, including four females in intensive care.
"I don't see anything that surprises me," Dr. Maureen Baikie, the province's deputy medical officer of health, said during a news conference Wednesday.
"We will continue to see more sick people and activity across the province."
The latest figures show that since the beginning of the flu season, which runs from September to September 2010, there have been 377 lab-confirmed cases of the so-called swine flu in Nova Scotia, according to a news release from the Health Promotion and Protection Department.
The department said the percentage of emergency room visits of people with flu-like illness has increased to 15.4 per cent from 3.7 since the week of Oct. 18-24; flu-like illness reported by doctors has risen to 10.3 from 5.4 per cent.
The lab-confirmed cases don't reflect the actual number of people with the illness, Baikie said at the news conference. Only people with severe symptoms are being tested while others with milder cases are being told to stay home.
The spike in cases has emptied the hallways of some schools. At Chester Middle School, about half of the students have been absent since Monday.
The mother of one of the sick students, who also has the virus, said Wednesday she didn't understand why the school was still open.
As far as she knew, the cases have been mild and she hopes it stays that way.
"Hopefully nothing drastic happens, it's really bad here," said the woman, who didn't want to be identified. "We live in the village and I don't know one kid who isn't sick."
A school would close only if there isn't enough staff to maintain operations, said Dan Harrison, a Department of Education spokesman.
As of Wednesday, 189 of the province's 430 schools had reported student absences above 10 per cent, he added. Most were in the Halifax region, with 91 schools reporting.
Most of the rest were in the Chignecto-Central region with 51 and in the Annapolis Valley, where 24 schools reported absenteeism of at least 10 per cent.