Swine flu cases top 1,160, Canada reports first severe case (Roundup)

May 5th, 2009 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City/Washington/Toronto, May 5 (IANS) Confirmed cases of influenza A(H1N1), which is better known as swine flu, topped 1,160 worldwide Tuesday as Canada reported its first severe case and the flu spread to over 36 states in the US.
In Mexico, where swine flu originated, President Felipe Calderon has said his country is “in a situation to restart the road toward normality”, as the outbreak of swine flu was stabilising.

“We find ourselves at a stage of stabilisation of the spread of the human influenza virus and we know its basic characteristics,” EFE news agency reported Calderon as saying.

Mexico is the epicentre of the global flu outbreak, which is caused by a new H1N1 strain of the virus that has genetic elements that come from three species - pigs, birds and human beings. The disease mimics the symptoms of influenza with fever, coughing, muscle ache and fatigue.

Calderon had asked Mexicans to remain in their homes from May 1-5.

Restaurants, cafes, administrative offices and court buildings may re-open from Wednesday, provided they respect certain health requirements.

While the situation in Mexico, officials said, was stabilising, the number of confirmed swine flu cases worldwide topped 1,160 Tuesday, according to tallies released by Sweden-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Mexico, the US and Canada still accounted for the bulk of all cases, Denis Coloumbier, head of the ECDC preparedness and response unit, said at a briefing, DPA news agency reported.

In Mexico, there were 727 confirmed cases and 26 deaths, the US had 280 confirmed cases including one death, while Canada had 140 confirmed cases, he said.

Compared to Monday, an additional 137 confirmed cases were reported by Mexico, 53 new cases by the US and 39 by Canada.

Cases were also reported from seven other countries.

In Europe, there were 107 confirmed cases, of which about half - or 57 - were reported from Spain. Britain had 27 confirmed cases and six probable cases while Germany had nine confirmed cases, the ECDC said.

In the US, which has reported the second largest number of swine flu cases after Mexico, it spread to 36 states with a total of 286 confirmed cases, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The daily update added another six states and 60 cases to Sunday’s tally for the US.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Switzerland has kept the global alarm level at five, one step short of the declaration of a full epidemic, which would be level six.

Canada has reported the country’s first severe case of the flu, a young girl in Edmonton was rushed to hospital with acute illness.

“Up until now, we have been reporting that all confirmed cases in Canada have been relatively mild, and that all have made a full recovery. However, the news of this first severe case, although disconcerting, is not surprising, and it does not change the course of action that we’re taking,” said Canada’s top health officer David Butler-Jones.

He added: “As we have been saying, our heightened surveillance will uncover more and more cases, with varying levels of severity. This case underscores a couple of things about influenza: it has few boundaries; it doesn’t respect borders; it often doesn’t respect age.”

The health official said heightened public health surveillance is likely to uncover more cases.

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