30 countries report 4,694 cases of swine flu: WHO

May 12th, 2009 - 12:54 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, May 11 (DPA) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Monday said that 4,694 cases of the new influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 53 deaths, were confirmed in 30 countries.
Mexico had 48 deaths from 1,626 laboratory-confirmed human cases of infection. The USs had 2,532 infections, including three deaths and Canada reported 284 cases, with one death. Costa Rica was hit with eight instances of the virus, including one death.

In Europe, Spain was most affected, with 95 cases of what is also known as swine flu, and Britain had 47 infections, the health agency said on its Website.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s head of health security, could not say how the virus would act in Europe.

“It is hard to know what will happen in Europe,” he said, adding that so far nearly all cases in the continent were travel related, meaning people brought the virus back with them from trips abroad.

Similarly, he said the organisation was still trying to understand the overall nature of the new virus. Pinning down the severity of the disease was also difficult as there was no quantitative scientific definition of the term.

“Severity is not a simple issue,” he said, adding later, “there is no epidemiological definition of severity.”

The WHO was trying to strike a balance between the level of concern caused to populations and the need to stay alert, Fukuda said about the warning system in use.

Currently, the agency has its influenza alert status at phase 5, just one below the highest possible, though this only tracks the geographic spread and not other aspects of the disease.

The WHO has not changed any of its recommendations, which call for governments to remain alert and people to engage in healthy activities, including regular washing of their hands with soap. It has stressed there is no need for travel restrictions or prohibitions on properly prepared pork products.

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