Mexico flu sparks worldwide fear
Sunday, 26 April 2009 12:34 UK
Mexican authorities have taken drastic measures to contain a new strain of the swine flu virus that has killed 81 and prompted fears of a global pandemic. People are being urged to stay at home and maintain strict personal hygiene. Many schools, public buildings, bars and restaurants have been closed.
Although all of the deaths so far have been in Mexico, the flu is spreading in the United States and suspected cases have been detected elsewhere:
- Eleven confirmed infections in the US. In addition, eight suspected cases are being investigated at a New York City high school where about 200 students fell mildly ill with flu-like symptoms.
- Ten New Zealand students are among a group which travelled to Mexico have tested positive for influenza A - making it "likely", though not definite, that they are infected with swine flu, said Health Minister Tony Ryall.
- In France, a top health official told Le Parisien newspaper there were unconfirmed suspicions that two individuals who had just returned from Mexico may be carrying the virus.
- In Israel, medics are testing a 26-year-old man who has been taken to hospital with flu-like symptoms after returning from a trip to Mexico.
The Mexican government, which has faced criticism for what some see as a slow reaction to this outbreak, is now taking an increasingly hard line to try to contain the virus, says the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City. Public buildings have been closed and hundreds of public events suspended. Schools in and around Mexico City have been closed until 6 May, and some 70% of bars and restaurants in the capital have been temporarily closed.
Mexico's Health Secretary, Jose Cordova, said a total of 1,324 people had been admitted to hospital with suspected symptoms since 13 April and were being tested for the virus. Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has announced emergency measures to deal with the situation. They include powers to isolate individuals suspected of having the virus without fear of legal repercussions.