With a pandemic now thought imminent, countries around the world are stepping up the battle against the new flu strain that continues to spread.
Science has moved on immeasurably since the so-called “Spanish flu” killed tens of millions, in 1918. A hi-tech response now enables thermal scanners at airports to help spot infections. But the modern age also means global travel on a massive scale, contributing to the propagation of the virus. While forging a coordinated response, the EU has rejected a French call to impose an across-the-board ban on flights to Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak where the flu strain has proved fatal. Declaring there had been no “dramatic attitude” by member states in favour of the move, Daniela Filipiova, the health minister of current EU President the Czech Republic, said it was down to individual countries to take measures contributing to the protection of their nationals. That is certainly something Britain is doing with a hard-hitting TV advert being broadcast as part of efforts to raise awareness. To stem the spread of the virus the campaign’s message is “Catch it. Bin it. Kill it! “ As part of its bid to combat what is now being called H1N1, much of Mexico is shutting down for the next five days. Non-essential parts of the economy will grind to a halt. But measures including the free distribution of masks have not prevented dozens more new cases being confirmed in the country.