Pandemic 'Imminent': WHO Raises Swine Flu Pandemic Alert Level to 5

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said pork, soybean and corn prices had fallen in the last two days and criticized what he said were illogical restrictions on pork.

Officials Fighting Swine Flu Learned Lessons From SARS

Korean health authorities are examining 315 other passengers that were on the same flight with the nun and have already injected Tamiflu into eight passengers who sat near her.

Spain had one previously confirmed case, the United Kingdom, two and Canada, six. France is still testing some people and some test results in Germany came back negative.

Most of the individuals involved had recently returned from Mexico.

To slow the global spread of the virus, the U.S. State Department and the European Union's health commissioner recommended avoiding nonessential travel to Mexico.

Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said they would quarantine visitors showing symptoms of the virus amid global concern about a possible pandemic, which means a prevalent and rapidly spreading disease over a large region.

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew told the Straits Times that Singaporeans returning from Mexico would be quarantined.

Argentina also installed airport heat sensors and suspended flights from Mexico, as did Cuba.

But Gregory Hartl, a World Health Organization spokesman, told reporters that it did not recommend border closure or travel restrictions as a countermeasure.

He noted that infected people may not show symptoms at the airport or when they reach a border crossing. "Certainly, if you feel that you are ill, you should not travel, in any case, to anywhere," Hartl said.

Lessons learned from the SARS (a viral respiratory disease) outbreak in Asia in 2003 showed that border closure was economically disruptive and not particularly effective. "In public health terms, it didn't work, so we don't want to repeat something that didn't work" Hartl said.

But governments in Asia were not taking any chances. Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines dusted off thermal scanners used in the SARS crisis as they checked for signs of fever among passengers from North America.

South Korea and Indonesia introduced similar screening. In Malaysia, health workers in face masks took the temperatures of passengers as they arrived on a flight from Los Angeles.

China said anyone experiencing flulike symptoms within two weeks of arrival had to report to authorities.

India will start screening people arriving from Mexico, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Britain and France for flulike symptoms, said Vineet Chawdhry, a top health ministry official. It also will contact people who have arrived from Mexico and other affected countries in the past 10 days to check for the symptoms, he said.

These measures came after the World Health Organization announced that it had raised its pandemic alert level to Phase 4 from Phase 3, the first time the alert level has been raised above 3 since the system was adopted in 2005.

The Phase 4 designation signifies that the new swine flu virus can cause sustained outbreaks and is adapting itself to spread among humans, significant steps toward a pandemic. But the ranking does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a foregone conclusion.

"If the virus is an efficient virus, if it spreads easily from human to human, it will probably continue to spread," Hartl said.

Page
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...