To Calm Fears of Presidential Exposure to Swine Flu, White House Sends Out Statement from Mexican Embassy

By Theresa Cook

Apr 27, 2009 5:34pm

To assuage fears — apparently based on false information — that President Obama had been exposed to the swine flu while in Mexico 11 days ago, the White House took the unusual step of sending out a statement from the spokesman for a foreign government Monday.

"Mr. Felipe Solis, Director of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum died on April 23rd, a week after he welcomed Presidents Obama and Calderon at the Museum," said Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy to the US, in a statement emailed to White House reporters. "He died of complications of a preexisting condition and not of swine flu.”

Many questions at today’s White House briefing were about Solis, a noted archeologist who met President Obama at an archeology museum in Mexico City on Thursday, April 16 and died the next week.

Mexican newspapers reported that Solis contracted the flu the day after meeting President Obama and died of it days later.

The White House advises that President Obama is in fine health with no symptoms of the flu.

"I specifically asked somebody on my staff to speak directly with the doctors of the President of the United States of America, ask them if they were at all concerned," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday. "They said, no.  The President, as I mentioned yesterday and on many other previous occasions, has not exhibited any symptoms that would require that to be of concern."

Gibbs added that "the President’s health was never in any danger; that he has not exhibited any symptoms; neither has anybody traveling with him; neither has any of the press that traveled with him that I’m aware of exhibited any symptoms that would cause some reason for concern."

A spokesman for the Solis family has said that Solis did not die of influenza.

“It’s absolutely false,” Julio Castejon told the Chronicle, saying Solis died of a heart attack linked to chronic diabetes and other ailments. “They found no evidence of influenza. This is yellow journalism.”

The first death due to swine flu was on April 13.

President Obama was in Mexico on April 16 through 17.

White House officials say that the Mexican government did not advise the US government about the swine flu before the president’s trip.  The Obama administration found out about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico early last week.

– jpt

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