Health experts race against time to end new global flu strainApril 28th, 2009 - 5:41 pm ICT by ANI
Mexico City, Apr.28 (ANI): The World Health Organization has raised the alert level in relation to the `Swine Flu’ epidemic to Phase 4, meaning there is sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus causing outbreaks in at least one country.
On Monday, the alert was raised above Phase 3.
Putting an alert at Phases 4 or 5 signals that the virus is becoming increasingly adept at spreading among humans.
Phase 6 is for a full-blown pandemic, characterized by outbreaks in at least two regions of the world.
World health officials are now racing against time to extinguish a new flu strain that is jumping borders The U.S. is prepared for the worst even as President Barack Obama has reassured Americans that it is being contained.
With the swine flu having already spread to at least four other countries, authorities around the globe are like firefighters battling a blaze without knowing how far it extends.
“At this time, containment is not a feasible option,” said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, which raised its alert level on Monday.
At the White House, a swine flu update was added to Obama’s daily intelligence briefing. Obama said the outbreak is “not a cause for alarm,” even as the U.S. stepped up checks of people entering the country and warned U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico.
“We are proceeding as if we are preparatory to a full pandemic,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The European Union health commissioner suggested that Europeans avoid nonessential travel both to Mexico and parts of the United States. Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said they would quarantine visitors showing symptoms of the virus.
Mexico, where the number of deaths believed caused by swine flu rose by 50 percent on Monday to 152, is suspected to be ground zero of the outbreak. But Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova late Monday said no one knows where the outbreak began, and implied it may have started in the U.S.
Worldwide there were 79 confirmed cases, including six in Canada, one in Spain and two in Scotland. Thirteen are suspected in New Zealand, and one is suspected in both France and Israel.
Symptoms include a fever of more than 100, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
In a bid to prevent mass contagion, Mexico canceled schools nationwide until May 6, and the Mexico City government is considering a complete shutdown, including all public transportation.
Richard Besser, the CDC’s acting director, said his agency is aggressively looking for evidence of the disease spreading and probing for ways to control and prevent it.
The best way to keep the disease from spreading, Besser said, is by taking everyday precautions such as frequent hand washing, covering up coughs and sneezes, and staying away from work or school if not feeling well.
WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley singled out air travel as an easy way the virus could spread, noting that the WHO estimates that up to 500,000 people are on planes at any time.
Governments in Asia - with memories of previous flu outbreaks - were especially cautious. Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines dusted off thermal scanners used in the 2003 SARS crisis and were checking for signs of fever among passengers from North America. South Korea, India and Indonesia also announced screening. (ANI)
- Mexican swine flu outbreak kills 29, infects nearly 1,500 - Jan 28, 2012
- US swine flu numbers rise to 109 - Apr 30, 2009
- Swine flu pandemic imminent, warns WHO, raises alert level (Roundup) - Apr 30, 2009
- US reports first swine flu death as epidemic spreads (Roundup) - Apr 29, 2009
- Mexico shuts down for five days, more swine flu cases reported (Roundup) - May 01, 2009
- Mexico shuts down for five days, more swine flu cases reported (Intro Roundup, Superseding earlier copy) - May 01, 2009
- Swine flu epidemic spreads; Mexico death toll 152 (Roundup) - Apr 28, 2009
- Senior citizen dies of swine flu in Lucknow - Aug 22, 2012
- Flu transmitted before symptoms appear, says study - Aug 30, 2012
- Swine flu spreads, first human-to-pig case reported (Roundup) - May 03, 2009
- Confirmed swine flu cases in Mexico rises to 91, pandemic imminent warns WHO (Second Lead, Changing Dateline) - Apr 30, 2009
- Obama wants $1.5 bn to fight swine flu - Apr 29, 2009
- No swine flu case in India, flu medicine stocks being beefed (Second Lead) - Apr 30, 2009
- WHO Declares Swine Flu Pandemic Officially Over - Aug 11, 2010
- Chandigarh man dies of swine flu - Aug 28, 2010
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