26 April, 2009

Swine flu an international emergency !

Mexican President Assumes New Powers To Isolate The Infected... As Many As 81 Killed In Mexico... Over 1,000 Sickened... New Cases Reported In US... California, Kansas, Texas... 8 NYC Students Likely Infected... WHO Declares Crisis A "Public Health Emergency"... "Pandemic Potential"... Fears It May Be Too Late To Stop It From Spreading

The World Health Organization on Saturday asked countries around the world to step up reporting and surveillance of the disease and implement a coordinated response to contain it.

Two dozen new suspected cases were reported in Mexico City alone, where authorities suspended schools and all public events until further notice. More than 500 events, including concerts and sports games, were canceled in the metropolis of 20 million.

Mexican authorities ordered schools closed in the capital and the states of Mexico and San Luis Potosi until May 6, and the Roman Catholic Church announced the cancellation of Sunday masses in the capital.

Meanwhile, The WHO on Saturday urged all countries to be alert for unusual swine flu outbreaks.

·Mexico City has closed schools, museums and other public gathering places.
·The H1N1, a mixture of swine, human and avian flu viruses, is still poorly understood by scientists.

On Saturday, Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova raised the probable death toll from the outbreak of the swine flu to 81, including 20 already confirmed, and said more than 1,324 had been suspected to be infected since April 13.

Mexico City has closed schools, museums and other public gathering places, and the Army has been distributing face masks to the population. The health minister said classes in the capital, the neighboring Mexico state and the northern state of San Luis Potosi will resume on May 6.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has issued an emergency decree giving the government special powers to run tests on sick people and order them to be isolated.

In the U.S., two more cases of swine flu were confirmed on Saturday in the state of Kansas and one case in California, bringing the total number of people infected to 11. Eight more cases have been reported in Texas and California.

Eight schoolchildren in New York City were found to be infected with a type A influenza virus that was likely to be the swine flu.

WHO says the virus from 12 of the Mexican patients is genetically the same as a new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1, which is also seen in eight people in California and Texas.

The H1N1, a mixture of swine, human and avian flu viruses, is still poorly understood by scientists.

Based on the advice of a WHO emergency committee, Director-General Margaret Chan "has determined that the current events constitute a public health emergency of international concern," the UN agency said in a statement on Saturday.

WHO urged all countries to boost their surveillance for any unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

But the Geneva-based UN agency left the alert status at "Phase 3" denoting none or very limited human-to-human transmission on its scale of one to six. The alert status "Phase 4" would indicate evidence of an increase in human-to-human infection.

"It has pandemic potential because it is infecting people," Chan said in Geneva. "However, we cannot say on the basis of currently available laboratory, epidemiological and clinical evidence whether or not it will indeed cause a pandemic."

China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine issued an emergency notice Saturday night requiring people to report flu-like symptoms at the point of entry when coming from the deadly swine flu affected places.

This is China's latest move in response to the outbreaks of human infection of Swine Influenza A/H1N1 in Mexico and the United States.

Australia's health protection officials including chief medical officer Jim Bishop hold meetings on Sunday to talk about how to guard the nation from the pig flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States.

"Australia has good communicable disease surveillance and control systems in place to detect and respond to outbreaks of illness," a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said. ]

The South Korean government announced to tighten quarantine measures for pork from the United States and Mexico after outbreaks of swine influenza in these countries, local media reported on Sunday.

South Korea's National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service announced Saturday that U.S. and Mexican pork to be imported from Monday will be put in quarantine to check if it was infected with the disease.

Malaysian health authorities will keep a close watch on visitors coming in from Latin American countries following an outbreak of the deadly swine flu in Mexico.

The Health Ministry also advised Malaysians not to travel to the affected countries.



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