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Flu pandemic still possible

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Flu pandemic still possible


Health experts say the Mexican swine flu outbreak appears to be continuing its gradual slowdown, but fear it is unpredictable enough to threaten a global pandemic. Scientists are continuing their tests, but the World Health Organisation said the H1N1 Type-A strain is still mainly confined to North America. However, precautionary measures are being taken.

“We have begun to despatch 2.4 million doses of antivirals to 72 countries, including Mexico, from stocks donated by Roche in 2005 and 2006. We will also supplement our regional stockpiles in the six W.H.O. regions as a contingency for further supplies to countries,” said the W.H.O’s Dr Michael Ryan. Mexico remains the focus of the virus, where the authorities have launched a huge public disinfection programme. Special cleaning gels are offered free, while buildings and open spaces are treated to keep the flu at bay. And irritation is growing that Mexico is being made the scapegoat for the outbreak. In Hong Kong, Mexican tourists were held in quarantine after one of them fell ill, something condemned as an over-reaction by Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. She said it was unfair discrimination, and advised Mexicans not to travel to China until the matter is rectified. The W.H.O’s alert level remains at five. Level six means a worldwide outbreak is imminent.
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