Mexican authorities have ordered the closure of restaurants, bars, schools and offices to stem the spread of the deadly swine flu, likely to have killed more than 150 people nationwide. The WHO has urged countries to prepare for a pandemic.
The World Health Organization has urged all countries to prepare for the worst as the swine flu crisis spreads across the globe.
A senior World Health Organisation official said it was "critical" to identify travellers from Mexico who might be infected with swine flu, in order to monitor the spread of the virus.
"These are critical to identify, because it helps us to monitor the spread of the virus worldwide and how it is moving," WHO assistant director general Keiji Fukuda told journalists.
Normal life suspended in Mexico
The death toll in Mexico has risen to as many as 159 people, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said late Tuesday.
Normal life came to a halt in Mexico City after officials ordered all eateries closed to the public as efforts stepped up to fight the deadly swine flu outbreak.
Restaurants, cafes, diners and other food outlets are prohibited from serving sit-down customers under the measure, though take-away service could be provided, city officials said.
The multi-strain virus has swept the world in recent days and is believed to contain DNA from avian, swine and human viruses. It appears to have evolved the ability to pass easily from one person to another, unlike most swine viruses
which only very occasionally infect people and usually only infect one person and then stop there.
Confirmed cases have so far occurred in Britain, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, most of them a result of recent travel to Mexico.
In the US, cases have jumped to 65 people in six states. US President Barack Obama asked the Congress for an additional $1.5 billion to battle the swine flu.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency over the outbreak, enabling deployment of funds and personnel to fight the disease.
Australia, Austria, Chile, China Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Ireland have all reported suspected cases.
Mideast countries on alert
Two Israeli men who recently returned from Mexico have been confirmed to have contracted swine flu in the first such cases in Israel and the Middle East, local media reported on Tuesday.
In Israel's neighbour Egypt, parliament called for the nation's 250,000 pigs to be killed immediately because of fears over the spread of swine flu, the state news agency MENA reported.
The United Arab Emirates, home to the Middle East's largest airport in Dubai, said it was putting all airports under strict surveillance to spot anyone arriving who might have swine flu.
Neighbouring Gulf country Bahrain has decided to suspend any imports of live pigs or any pork products.
Import bans on pork products
Ecuador on Tuesday decided to halt pork imports from Mexico and the United States due to the swine flu, after countries like China and Russia took similar measures.
Several Balkan countries have also moved to ban pork imports. Imports bans have been imposed by Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.
Croatia’s Health Minister Darko Milinovic said that after the World Health Organization raised its flu pandemic alert level from three to four on Monday, all patients with suspicious symptoms would be isolated while undergoing diagnostic tests.
Similar measures have been taken in Serbia, with its agriculture ministry banning pork or pork products imports "until further notice."
Date created : 2009-04-29