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Asia screens for swine flu as cases increase in Mexico, US

Article published on the 2009-04-27 Latest update 2009-04-27 16:35 TU

Malaysia's health officials check temperature on passengers arriving from Los Angeles for swine flu at Kuala Lumpur.(Photo: Reuters)

Malaysia's health officials check temperature on passengers arriving from Los Angeles for swine flu at Kuala Lumpur.
(Photo: Reuters)

In Mexico, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said late Sunday that the death toll from swine flu has probably reached 103. The number of those hospitalised is at about 400 and the number of cases under observation has now reached 1,614.

Mexico's Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said the World Bank had announced a 205 million dollar loan to help Mexico fight the virus, and that 25 million dollars would become immediately available.

In the United States, the Centre for Disease Control said there were eight confirmed cases in New York, seven in California, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio.

China has banned all pork imports from Mexico although health officials have said that the virus is spread by human-to-human contact and Malaysia's health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that all travellers from the US were being screened.

Hong Kong said that it would quarantine all passengers arriving from affected regions, and airport screening is in place in Vietnam, where bird flu has killed 56 people since 2003.  

In Europe, the European Commission on Monday called for a meeting of EU health ministers to discuss the threat posed by swine flu.

The EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will ask the Czech presidency to organise the meeting. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country assumes the EU presidency in July, has however called for calm, saying there was no need for panic.

The Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche said on Monday that it was ready to send extra stocks of its antiviral drug Tamiflu if necessary but that it has not yet received any concrete demands from the WHO.

The business world was also affected by fears over the virus as share prices in Lufthansa and Air France dropped in trading on Monday.

In France, four people who were tested for swine flu after travelling in the Americas all tested negative, according to Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

Interview: Kate Glynn, Epidemy Specialist at World Organization for Animal Health

27/04/2009 by David Page