Mexico flu sparks worldwide fear
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. 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.
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. In New York, city health commissioner Dr Thomas Frieden said preliminary tests conducted on the ailing students showed they were possible cases of swine flu.
Following a meeting of its emergency committee on Saturday, the WHO said the virus had the potential to become a pandemic but it was too early to say whether that would happen. WHO Director General Margaret Chan said recent events constituted "a public health emergency of international concern" and that countries needed to co-operate in heightening surveillance.
The WHO is advising all countries to be vigilant for seasonally unusual flu or pneumonia-like symptoms among their populations - particularly among young healthy adults, a characteristic of past pandemics. It is unclear how effective currently available flu vaccines would be at offering protection against the new strain, as it is genetically distinct from other flu strains.
Tags: Worldwide Fear , Mexico , Flu Virus
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