- Title: MEXICO: H1N1 fears wane in Mexico, but vigilance remains
- Date: 10th May 2009
- Summary: CORDOVA MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (MAY 8, 2009) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING AROUND IN STREET HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS GOING TO CLASSES WEARING SURGICAL MASKS SIGNS WITH HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) HIGH-SCHOOL EMPLOYEE, RAUL ORTEGA, SAYING: "We are asking them (students) to bring a surgical face mask with them in order to enter because classrooms are not very big and they could get infected very easily." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE EMERGING FROM METRO PEOPLE WALKING AROUND STREET WEARING SURGICAL FACE MASKS PEOPLE CUEING TO GET INTO OFFICES
- Embargoed: 25th May 2009 13:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVA7DVKY8O3SJK9D0CJDYFFQEPMK
- Story Text: Mexican officials said the worst was over but strict prevention measures remained in place in Mexico City on Friday (May 8) as a top global health official predicted up to a third of the world's population could eventually become infected with the H1N1 flu.
A batch of detailed studies on the new swine flu virus showed it was a strange marriage between a triple-hybrid virus with pig, human and bird elements and a European swine virus not seen before in North America.
Guards wearing full-body protective suits stood outside the Aztec Templo Mayor (Main Temple), one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitaln which is now Mexico City and handed out hand sanitizer to visitors.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, said local authorities would prepare for a return to normal activities at night.
"Today we have set-up 14 health brigades with different routes who will be supervising hygiene and cleaning measure at businesses. Of course the city will have hundreds of activities taking place at night. Tonight is an important challenge for the city. Returning to normal activities requires huge supervision efforts on our behalf," he said.
"In two weeks nearly 100 percent of the city shut down. Now we have to return to our activities and maintain prevention measures. It's a new culture," Ebrard added.
Meanwhile, Mexico's confirmed death toll ticked up to 45 as labs tested a backlog of samples from people who died in March and April. On Friday, Mexico's Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said they had coordinated efforts with health ministers from the whole continent.
"Several countries including Argentina have requested information and we have held teleconferences at least once or twice a week with health ministers from the whole of Latin America. Not only we have taken part in them but also the Canadian health minister or the person in charge of the U.S.
health department," he said.
More than 2,000 people in 24 countries have been infected with the virus, the World Health Organization said.
The WHO's Dr. Keiji Fukuda urged Asian governments to stay alert for a possible wider pandemic that "could infect a third or more of the world's population in the next several months, in the next year."
Fukuda said H1N1 flu is not yet spreading in a sustained way outside North America, so the global pandemic level remains at 5 out of 6. Fukuda said governments should be ready for H1N1 to turn into something far more serious.
"In order to pass to a phase six, human to human transmission would have to be confirmed in a sustained manner in another country not in the Americas. Apparently that is not the tendency right now. We have apparently stayed in phase five and in order to return to phase four more work together with all countries would be needed," said the World Health Organization Representative in Mexico, Dr. Philippe Lamy.
In Mexico, millions of high school and university students returned to classes as the country got back on its feet after shutting public places last week to avoid spread of the disease.
And even though Mexican officials said they were over the worst, high schools continued demanding that all students wear a surgical face mask as significant transmission was still possible.
"We are asking them (students) to bring a surgical face mask with them in order to enter because classrooms are not very big and they could get infected very easily," said a high-school employee, Raul Ortega.
After a five-day business shutdown, the government has let bars, cinemas, restaurants and workplaces reopen. Theme park operator Six Flags said it planned to reopen its Mexico City park on Friday after being given permission by Mexico's government to do so.
But visitors to government-run buildings were asked to wear surgical masks and wash their hands with antibacterial soap before entering.
Restaurants also sanitized diners' hands as they arrived.
In a series of reports rushed into the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday (May 7), researchers said influenza viruses from animals are an ongoing threat and doctors need to keep a lookout for them.
So far the genetic analysis gives no clue about where the new virus came from, the researchers told a news conference.
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