Mexico to Begin Flu Shutdown
Mexico is set to begin a five-day nationwide shutdown of non-essential businesses in an effort to stem the spread of a new flu strain, as further cases of the disease were confirmed in the US and Europe.
The shutdown beginning on Friday was ordered by the Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president, who told government offices and private businesses not crucial to the economy to stop work.
“There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus,” Calderon said in his first televised address since the outbreak.
New infections ‘stabilising’
Mexico, the country worst-hit by the outbreak, has confirmed at least 12 deaths from the H1N1 virus but says up to 159 could have been killed by the disease.
Health authorities say 300 cases of infection by the virus had been confirmed out of nearly 700 suspected cases tested.
However, the country’s health minister said he believed the latest data indicated the number of new infections was stabilising. >>>
The World Health Organization’s pandemic alert system has six phases, where phase six means a flu pandemic is under way.
The alert level was set at phase three when the system was introduced in 2005.
On Monday the WHO declared a move to phase four, upped on Wednesday to phase five. A phase five alert signifies that a pandemic is “imminent”. * What is the difference between phases four and five? Phase four means the flu virus is being transmitted from person to person in a way that could cause “community-level outbreaks”. A phase 5 alert means there is person-to-person spread of the virus in at least two countries in a WHO region. * What would trigger a move to phase six? Phase six means there are community flu outbreaks in at least two WHO regions. It does not mean that every country is affected. >>>