Nations limit Mexico travel as swine flu's toll climbs

A child is taken from the area where patients with flu-like symptoms are treated at a hospital in Mexico City on Tuesday. Mexican officials say 26 deaths have been confirmed to have been caused by swine flu.

Associated Press

A child is taken from the area where patients with flu-like symptoms are treated at a hospital in Mexico City on Tuesday. Mexican officials say 26 deaths have been confirmed to have been caused by swine flu.

NEW YORK — The global swine flu outbreak worsened Tuesday, with the Mexican government saying suspected swine flu cases have risen to 2,498 and deaths to 159.

U.S. health officials said they expect deaths from the virus, other countries imposed international travel restrictions and fear gripped the already hurting global economy.

In the U.S.

Authorities said hundreds of students at a New York school have fallen ill, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States has 68 confirmed cases in five states, with 45 in New York, one in Ohio, one in Indiana, two in Kansas, six in Texas and 13 in California.

"I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," said Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC.

That was echoed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"It is very likely that we will see more serious presentations of illness and some deaths as we go through this flu cycle," she said.

At least five people have been hospitalized, three in California and two in Texas, Besser said.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.5 billion in emergency funds to fight the illness.

In New York, there were growing signs that the virus was moving beyond St. Francis Preparatory school, where sick students started lining up last week at the nurse's office. The outbreak came just days after a group of students returned from spring break in Cancun, Mexico.

U.S. officials stressed there was no need for panic and noted that flu outbreaks are quite common every year.

Elsewhere

New cases were reported Tuesday in Canada, Israel, France, New Zealand, Costa Rica and South Korea.

Mexico's health department says the number of suspected swine flu deaths has risen to 159, with the virus confirmed as the cause of death in 26 of those cases. Health Secretary Jose Cordova says 2,498 suspected cases of swine flu have been reported, with 1,311 of the patients still in the hospital.

Travel and economy

Mexico put its pyramids and all other archaeological sites off limits nationwide and closed restaurants in the capital for all but take-out food.

In Mexico City, canceled events and closed movie theaters, night clubs, museums and other establishments are costing at least $57 million a day, according to city's Chamber of Trade, Services and Tourism. That's a 36 percent drop in revenue, the chamber said.

The United States warned Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. Canada, Israel and France issued similar travel advisories. Cuba suspended flights to and from Mexico, becoming the first country to impose an outright ban. Argentina soon followed with its own ban, and ordered 60,000 visitors who arrived from Canada, Mexico and the United States in the past 20 days to contact the Health Ministry.

Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line suspended stops at Mexican ports.

A report by the World Bank, updated last year, estimated that a severe pandemic — like the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918 that killed up to 100 million people — would cause a nearly 5 percent drop in global economic activity, costing the world about $3.1 trillion.

Name change: H1N1

The outbreak has been a public relations nightmare for the pork industry. Public health officials have said people cannot get sick from eating pork, but some countries, including China, Russia and Ukraine, have banned imports from Mexico and parts of the United States.

U.S. trade, agriculture and security officials said Tuesday they were renaming the swine flu crisis the "2009 H1N1 virus outbreak" and warned other countries not to "ban or prevent" imports of U.S. pork or other products.

Nations limit Mexico travel as swine flu's toll climbs 04/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:49pm]

    

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