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Mexico orders economic shutdown; pandemic imminent
MEXICO CITY/GENEVA, April 30 (Reuters) - Mexico's president told citizens to stay home from Friday for a five-day partial shutdown of the economy, after the World Health Organisation raised its alert level and said a swine flu pandemic was imminent.
In his first televised address since the crisis erupted last week, President Felipe Calderon told Mexicans to stay home with their families. The country will suspend non-essential work and services, including some government ministries, from May 1-5.
"There is no safer place than your own home to avoid being infected with the flu virus," Calderon said.
Mexico reported another 17 deaths potentially linked to swine flu, bringing the total to as many as 176. Ten countries have reported cases of the H1N1 strain, and Texas officials said a 22-month-old boy had died while on a family visit from Mexico, the first confirmed swine flu death outside Mexico.
Q Do masks provide protection against swine flu?
A Yes, but probably not to the person wearing them. They help stop the virus being expelled from the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, but are much less effective at protecting the wearer from a virus picked up on the hands or circulating in the air. Wearing a mask thus becomes a public-spirited act.
Global health officials trying to gauge the severity of the swine-flu outbreak face a tough call on how quickly to move on creating a vaccine for the new virus.
As confirmed cases of the new A/H1N1 flu virus mount and spread around the world, health officials must balance the desire to stop the spread quickly with some serious risks of moving too fast.
Even with a full push, it would take months to get a vaccine ready, and the effort could force drug companies to cut corners or reduce production of regular flu vaccine needed for the winter. But waiting too long could allow the swine-flu virus to have a much more deadly impact.
Work has already begun on a vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has the basic components for a swine-flu vaccine, and is studying the makeup of the virus to better understand a central mystery: why it has caused serious illness and deaths in Mexico but generally milder symptoms elsewhere.
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - Seven people have been diagnosed with a new kind of swine flu in California and Texas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
All seven people have recovered but the virus itself is a never-before-seen mixture of viruses typical among pigs, birds and humans, the CDC said.
"We are likely to find more cases," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told a telephone briefing. "We don't think this is time for major concern around the country."
The CDC's Dr. Nancy Cox said virus samples from the seven appear to carry genes from swine flu, avian flu and human flu viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.
Gray said Texas law does not allow state officials to compel people to be medically treated or to compel people to stay in their homes under many circumstances.
She said physicians, emergency personnel and even parents do have a legal duty to report people who have a contagious disease once state authorities have declared they must do so. She said those reports are only to help contain disease and the information is confidential and cannot even be obtained by subpoena.