European Union Warns Against Travel to Americas

The New York Times reported today that the European Union’s health commissioner is urging Europeans to avoid traveling to the U.S. or Mexico if doing so is not essential. The warning came as health officials in Spain confirmed early Monday that a man hospitalized in eastern Spain had tested positive for swine flu, becoming what appeared to be Europe’s first case of the disease. Health authorities were also testing 17 other suspected cases across Spain, a major hub for travel between Mexico and Europe.

Britain and other European Union nations had already issued travel advisories for those traveling to Mexico, but the European Union’s health commissioner went a step further on Monday in urging Europeans to avoid nonessential trips.

Other nations imposed travel bans or made plans to quarantine air travelers over the weekend as additional confirmed cases appeared in Mexico and Canada, and at least 10 suspected cases appeared in New Zealand. Eight of the 20 confirmed cases in the United States were diagnosed in New York City.

Besides the eight New York cases, officials said they had confirmed seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio. The virus looked identical to the one in Mexico believed to have killed 103 people—including 22 people whose deaths were confirmed to be from swine flu—and sickened about 1,600. As of Sunday night, there were no swine flu deaths in the United States, and one hospitalization.

Other governments tried to contain the infection amid reports of potential new cases, including in New Zealand. Health officials there said that nine students and their teacher had tested positive for Influenza A after returning to Auckland from a trip to Mexico. The World Health Organization was conducting tests to determine if the virus was in fact swine flu. In the meantime, airport workers in Auckland were stepping up their screening of people traveling from North America.

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