W.H.O. SAYS SWINE FLU NOW IN 15 COUNTRIES


The World Health Organisation said on Saturday that 15 countries have reported 615 infections with the new flu virus A-H1N1, widely known as swine flu.

Most of the increase from Friday’s 331 toll reflects the results of ongoing tests from Mexico, which had a backlog of samples in WHO labs, the United Nations agency said.

Mexico, the epicentre of the disease outbreak, now has 397 laboratory-confirmed human cases including 16 deaths, according to the WHO, whose data has been lagging national figures and is considered most authoritative.

The second-most affected country, the United States, has 141 cases confirmed in WHO labs including one death, the Mexican infant whose family crossed the border to seek medical help.

Other countries have had the following number of confirmed H1N1 infections, with no deaths: Austria (1), Canada (34), Hong Kong – China (1), Denmark (1), France (1), Germany (4), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (4), South Korea (1), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and Britain (13).

Mexico has cut its suspected death toll to 101 from as many as 176 because of test samples coming back negative in its labs, the government said late on Friday, in a sign the flu pandemic the WHO says is “imminent” may not be as severe as first feared.

On Saturday, the WHO repeated its view that borders should stay open and travel should not be limited as a result of the virus, but said “it is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention.

“Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness,” the WHO said on its website.

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