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All You Need to Know About Swine Flu & TravelMay 7, 2009 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor
The appeal of travel to Mexico took another hit this weekend as reports of rapid increases in swine flu has fanned fears of the virus after it broke out in Mexico and the U.S. It comes just after the country was dealing with image issues related to a surge in gang and border violence in the country.
Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
WHO confirms that 23 countries have officially reported 2099 cases of H1N1 infection. Mexico has reported 1,112 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 42 deaths. The U.S. has reported 642 laboratory confirmed human cases, including two deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (201), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (5), Germany (9), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (5), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (5), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (2), Spain (73), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (28).
WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.
Wednesday, 11:15 a.m.
The CDC confirms that there are now 642 cases of H1N1 flu, with two deaths, in the U.S. Officials expect the flu to spread to all 50 states, to cause severe disease and some deaths, although most cases have been mild.
Mexico has confirmed 42 deaths and said it was impossible to get samples from about 70 more people who died of flu-like illness recently. Globally, more than 1,600 cases have been reported in 23 countries.
Tuesday, 10:05 a.m.
WHO confirms the number of H1N1 virus cases worldwide has increased to 1,490 with 30 deaths, most of them in Mexico. It marks an increase of 405 cases and four deaths since Monday evening.
Mexico will allow most nonessential businesses to reopen Wednesday, after it ordered them closed Friday.
Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, told the Financial Times that the initial outbreak of H1N1 could be mild but that a second wave more lethal, as happened in 1918.
According to tallies by the CDC, WHO and governments, there are 101 confirmed cases of swine flu in Canada; 40 in Spain; 18 in Britain; eight in Germany; four in New Zealand; two each in Italy, France, Israel, and South Korea; one each in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Hhealth officials raised the number of confirmed U.S. swine flu cases to 244 in 34 states.
Monday, 9:25 a.m.
H1N1 has spread to Colombia in the first confirmed case in South America.
Sunday, 12:04 p.m
The number of confirmed H1N1 infections in Canada has reached 101, but of the cases is life-threatening, Canadian health officials said.
Health officials have confirmed seven cases of swine flu in New Jersey and one probable case. Three family members from Mount Laurel in Burlington County are sick after recently traveled together to Mexico. A Monmouth County woman, a woman from Bergen County, a Burlington County woman, and a girl in Somerset County girl also got sick.
Florida officials confirmed that the state has its first two confirmed cases of swine flu. The confirmations led Florida Governor Charlie Crist to ask the state's surgeon general to declare a public health emergency. Eight suspected cases have been sent for testing including one from Orange County.
Hong Kong confirmed Asia's first case of the H1N1 virus. A Mexican traveler arrived on a China Eastern flight on Thursday afternoon after a stopover in Shanghai. He had a fever and went to Ruttonjee Hospital for help on Thursday evening. The confirmation of the H1N1 infection was made by a laboratory at the University of Hong Kong.
Friday, 9:04 a.m.
WHO this morning officially confirmed that the cases of H1N1 flu across the world was now at 331 in 11 countries, including 10 deaths. The figures include 109 confirmed cases with one death in the U.S. and 156 confirmed cases with nine deaths in Mexico.
Other countries with laboratory-confirmed cases are Austria (1), Canada (34), Germany (3), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (3), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and United Kingdom (8).
WHO reports the number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases rose to 257 worldwide , with cases in Mexico rising to 97 from 26, with seven deaths. The confirmed tally from the U.S. now stands at 109, with one death. Other confirmed cases include 19 in Canada, 13 in Spain, eight in Britain, three each in Germany and New Zealand, two in Israel and one each in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Thursday, 9:05 a.m.
Though the CDC is recommending that people avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico, WHO does not contemplate the closing of borders or restrictions of trips.
The Mexico Tourism Board and Ministry of Tourism report that no tourists currently in Mexico have been infected by the H1N1 virus.
The World Health Organization has raised its threat level to phase 5 for H1N1 virus. It is the final level before pandemic.
"Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a press conference.
The CDC confirms that H1N1 virus has spread to 11 states and infected at least 94 people. There are three cases in Maine; 51 cases in New York; 16 cases in Texas; 14 cases in California; two cases each in Massachusetts, Michigan and Kansas; and single cases in Arizona, Nevada, Indiana and Ohio.
Although the H1N1 virus situation is evolving rapidly, the World Health Organization is, for the time being, advising that there be no travel restrictions nor closure of borders due to the ongoing illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed nine laboratory swine flu cases one death in the U.S. The government has also renamed the swine flu influenza the H1N1 virus.
The U.S. Embassy and all U.S. Consulates in Mexico have suspended all non-essential services to the public until May 6.
A member of the World Health Organization dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.
Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, tells the Australia Associated Press (AAP) that WHO confirmed just seven deaths - all in Mexico - and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.
Wednesday, 8:09 a.m.
The Centers for Disease Control confirmed this morning that a five-year-old child in Texas has become the first fatality from swine flu in the United States.
Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California in response to the swine flu outbreak as authorities investigate two deaths in Los Angeles for possible links to the disease. "While there is no need for alarm, it is the Governor's top priority to limit the swine flu's spread as quickly and effectively as possible ...," a released statement said.
There are 11 confirmed cases across the state, although none have been reported in Los Angeles County.
There are now 65 official human cases of swine flu in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 10 cases in California, two in Kansas, 45 in New York, one in Ohio and six in Texas. Indiana state authorities have separately confirmed a case in their state.
The CDC is expected to hold a news briefing at 2:30 p.m.
Eyewitness News WFTV is reporting that a tourist from Mexico who visited Disneyworld in Orlando for two days was diagnosed with swine flu Tuesday at Florida Hospital.
The World Heath Organization is convening a Scientific Review on April 29 in response to requests from the scientific community for more detailed scientific information on swine influenza.
Experts from the affected countries will provide an update on the current situation and discuss what is known about the disease from a virological, epidemiological and clinical perspective.
A report from the review will be posted on the WHO swine influenza page shortly after the meeting.
The Business Travel Coalition has launched a Swine Influenza Dashboard, a one-stop source for corporate travel managers and other travel industry participants that provides resources to keep customers or key constituencies apprised of developments. Users can access, in real-time, relevant global news and government feeds. The Dashboard can be accessed and bookmarked at www.netvibes.com/btc#Flu.
The feeds include ECDC alerts, CDC Tweets and WHO alerts as well as customized news feeds for airlines, airports, hotels, travel agents, employees, preparedness and treatments. New feeds will be added daily.
Tuesday, 8:06 a.m.
New Zealand and Israel both found cases of swine flu in citizens returning from Mexico. Confirmation proves virus has spread to Asia.
The World Health Organization raised its global epidemic threat level for the first time ever, up to Phase 4. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion. It is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic.
The Spanish hotel company Sol Meliá has shared its concern on a humanitarian level with the situation in Mexico, but has also been quick to deny rumors of a major impact of the virus on company performance. According to Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, vice chairman and CEO of Sol Meliá, the impact is expected to be mild given that “the problem has come about in what is the now the low season in the region, with the revenues from Mexican hotels in May and June making up only 1.04 percent of the total”.
The Obama Administration said there is no "cause for alarm" over swine flu but still urged Americans against most travel to Mexico.
In response to the recent news of an influenza outbreak, MLT Vacations is providing options for customers traveling to Mexico between now and May 6 under its Worry-Free Vacations, NWA WorldVacations and Continental Airlines Vacations brands. Customers who have purchased Travel Protection may cancel their trip up to the moment of departure. Customers will receive a full refund in the form of a gift card valid for one year from the date of issue. Customers without Travel Protection have the following options: receive a refund less normal cancel fees; rebook without penalty to another destination for departure within seven days before or after the original departure date or cancel and receive a refund, in the form of a gift card, good for booking another destination within 60 days. A $50 per person service fee will be assessed.
India has announced that it will screen all travelers coming from the U.S., UK, Canada, Mexico, France and New Zealand, while advising to avoid "non-essential travel'" to these flu-affected countries
The Associated Press reports that a House committee will hold a hearing this week on the increasing domestic and international cases of swine. The session will address public concern over a potential outbreak and how government agencies are working to protect people.
The latest data according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and government officials include:
- In Mexico, there have been 149 deaths, 20 confirmed as swine flu as the rest are assumed. Nearly 1,995 people have been hospitalized with pneumonia but it is not yet known how many were swine flu
- In the U.S., there are 40 confirmed cases, 28 at one New York City school. Seven cases in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio
- There are six confirmed illnesses in Canada; 13 suspected in New Zealand; 1 confirmed and 17 suspected in Spain; 1 suspected in France; 1 suspected in Israel.
Travel Impressions’ Customer Care Group has established a special toll-free number - 866-789-5384 - to assist customers wishing to alter their travel plans to Mexico. In addition, Travel Impressions is waiving any internal fees for changes made now through May 12. Travel Impressions is posting the latest updates and advisories about travel to Mexico on its website. Visit www.travelimpressions.com.
Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova stated that up to 149 people have been killed in Mexico thus far, and ordered all schools to close across the country through May 6 as a precaution.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued the following statement on the swine influenza crisis in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Mexico:
“During the last few days as you know, we have seen a spread of influenza virus in Mexico, the US, New Zealand and Canada.” We are concerned it could cause a new influenza pandemic. We are trying to find out which way it will go.
“The UN system is responding quickly with Dr. Chan, Director -General of the World Health Organization (WHO) taking the lead. The alert pandemic is set at phase 2 buy may be set at phase 3 which indicates a wide spread.”
“Poorer nations are especially vulnerable. We must ensure they are not hit disproportionately. Countries needing additional resources will have them. So far our response has been an example of multilateral cooperation at its best.”
The U.S. Department of State is reporting that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico suspended service from today through Thursday. According to the report, U.S. and Mexican Governments are working closely together to contain the current outbreak of H1N1 influenza, a new strain of "swine flu." In accordance with measures announced by the City of Mexico to limit the congregation of large crowds, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City will suspend all non-essential consular services during the time mentioned.
Browsing Twitter, we found a Google Map tracking of swine flu outbreaks in Mexico and the U.S. (Hat Tip: V2Tech)
As of now, travel in and out of Mexico continues to flow normally, according to reports from the the Ministry of Tourism and the Mexico Tourism Board. The Ministry of Tourism and the Mexico Tourism Board also announced that there are currently no restrictions or travel alerts related to the Swine Flu from any foreign country to visit Mexico.
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that there is no possibility of issuing a quarantine , and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that any American visiting Mexico can do so without any restrictions.
Mexico's government has activated Border Group, a joint effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Institute of Immigration and the Customs Agency that are working together to continue to provide updates and disseminate information about any outbreaks in Mexico.
In the meantime, all Mexican ports, consular institutions and embassies abroad are equipped to offer information about the risks associated with the Swine Flu, its forms of transmission, symptoms and preventive measures that should be taken to avoid the spreading of this illness.