Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

Read more

#TECH 24

Internet of Things

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

WEB NEWS

NSA targets 'Tor' network users

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users call for peace in Gaza

Read more

  • France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017

    Read more

  • Moroccan police arrest French al-Qaeda recruiter

    Read more

  • Video: Slaviansk mourns mass grave victims

    Read more

  • Video: Ethiopia turns to wine to boost image, economy

    Read more

  • Thousands gather in Marseille in support of Israel

    Read more

  • Luc Besson’s sci-fi thriller ‘Lucy’ tops US box office

    Read more

  • As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

    Read more

  • Liberia tightens border controls to curb Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • The centenary of Austria-Hungary’s calamitous last hurrah

    Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Nibali joins elite group with Tour de France win

    Read more

  • France calls on its nationals to leave Libya as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Boko Haram kidnap Cameroon minister's wife in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

    Read more

  • ‘Irresponsible’ American dad tries to scale Mont Blanc with children

    Read more

  • Ukraine fighting prevents observers from accessing MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Crowds flock to enjoy the Tour de France show

    Read more

  • Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

    Read more

  • Video: At the scene of the Air Algérie crash in Mali

    Read more

  • Costa Concordia arrives in port of Genoa to be scrapped

    Read more

  • In pictures: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Russia lashes out at new EU sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Syrian army and ISIS both claim advances

    Read more

Europe

Pandemic 'very likely', says EU Commission

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Latest update : 2009-05-06

The H1N1 swine flu virus is set to reach pandemic levels in Europe but unlikely to cause widespread deaths, EU health chiefs have said, adding that people should not panic. The number of confirmed cases in Mexico now stands at 260.

AFP - Swine flu is set to reach pandemic levels in Europe but unlikely to cause widespread deaths, EU health chiefs said Thursday as they struggled to overcome differences on how to contain the virus.
   
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou insisted, after an emergency meeting of European health ministers in Luxembourg, that people should not panic even though it looks increasingly likely that the virus will reach pandemic proportions.
   
"We are worried, but we are on top of it, there is no need to panic," she told journalists.
   
"It is very likely that we will reach a pandemic, but this does not mean that it will be deadly," she said.
   
Although there have been deaths from the virus, mainly in Mexico, most people who have contracted it had responded well, she said, adding that even in normal times seasonal flu kills 250,000 people worldwide every year.
   
"This is a new virus so it may happen that humans have no immunity to it," said Czech Health Minister Daniela Filipiova, who chaired the meeting.
   
She added that the fact that there might be a pandemic only meant that "it may happen that an unusal amount of people may be ill," and that therefore the appropriate response was in "precautionary measures".
   
While the ministers agreed to coordinate their responses across Europe, they struggled to agree on whether travel restrictions were necessary, shooting down a French proposal to halt flights to Mexico.
   
French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot acknowledged that there was little support among Paris' EU partners for such a drastic measure, but insisted that the idea was still on the table.
   
"In the current state of the situation, we are not yet taking this decision," she said.
   
Other countries such as Germany and Spain balked at the proposal, considering it too radical and having little value since the outbreak had already spread far beyond Mexico.
   
"People are free to travel where they want and no country can forbid that," German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said. However those planning a trip to Mexico "should put it off", she added.
   
In the absence of broad support for the French proposal, the Czech minister said: "We have agreed that it is a matter to be dealt with by the individual member states."
   
The swine flu outbreak was first discovered in Mexico where the government on Thursday sharply raised its toll of confirmed flu cases to 260, including 12 fatalities.
   
Vassiliou said that European countries had "substantial" stockpiles of vaccines and antiflu medicine, although she was not in a position to say whether they would be sufficient if the situation deteriorated dramatically.
   
"If there is a real escalation of the crisis the member states that have more stockpiles of antivirals expressed their willingness and readiness to help others in a spirit of solidarity," she said.
   
Italy has called on EU countries to consider developing jointly run stockpiles, an idea that countries have resisted in the past.
   
On the sidelines of the EU meeting, Italy also urged its own citizens returning from Mexico to quarantine themselves at home for seven days over concerns about the potentially deadly flu.
   
The hastily arranged meeting in Luxembourg took place as a growing number of European countries announce cases of the flu, although none have proved deadly in Europe so far.
   
Filipiova said that the World Health Organisation, which has also warned that a pandemic is imminent, had deemed Europe as the best prepared region in the world to tackle the outbreak.
  

Date created : 2009-04-30

COMMENT(S)