April 28, 2009—Swine flu has been detected in seven countries, including New Zealand, Israel, and the U.S. But so far, all confirmed cases are in people who have traveled to, or live in, Mexico.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
Swine flu spread to the Middle East and the South Pacific on Tuesday, as New Zealand reported 3 confirmed cases and Israel said it had one.
World health officials raised a global alert level. And more deaths were reported in Mexico.
But so far, confirmed swine flu cases in humans around the world are in people who recently visited or live in Mexico. Health officials are watching to see if cases arise in other countries from local populations.
SOUNDBITE (English) Yuen Kwok-yung, Head of Department of Microbiology, University of Hong Kong: "You have cases outside Mexico, in different geographical areas, from Europe, to US, to Australia and New Zealand. These are now imported cases. Once there are local cases there which are not imported in these areas, then it would be clearly a pandemic."
The World Health Organization has stepped up its alert level, and at least 7 countries now have confirmed swine flu cases.
SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President: " This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert, but it is not a cause for alarm.
SOUNDBITE (English) Yakov Litzman, Deputy Israeli Health Minister: "Things which are in both cases (are) people with fever, have the flu and have come in the last week from Mexico.
SOUNDBITE (English) Tony Ryall, New Zealand Health Minister: As you know already, their symptoms were mild and all are recovering. This is the pattern seen in countries outside of Mexico."
In Mexico, while the Mexican government has reported just 26 confirmed cases and seven deaths attributed to swine flu, the news media has reported more than 150 deaths.
And, according to the Associated Press, Mexicos health secretary Jose Cordova has indicated the number of new cases reported by Mexico's largest government hospitals has been declining the past three days.
Mexico cancelled school nationwide on Monday and the Mexican government still does not know where the flu originated.
Throughout Mexico, there were lines at hospitals for treatment, but some had signs posted in Spanish saying, There are no longer any vaccines."
And one family said health authorities refused to treat a relative on Sunday who had full-blown flu symptoms and could barely stand.
The mans father-in-law told the Associated Press the 31-year-old truck driver was even ordered out of a government ambulance.
SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) Jorge Martinez Cruz, Father in law of patient being treated for suspected swine flu: (Reporter question: "And what happened in the ambulance?) "The girl in the ambulance told him to step down, that he was going to contaminate everybody in the ambulance, I think that was terrible."
On Tuesday in Geneva, the World Health Organization emphasized they do not recommend any travel restrictions to any country, even though some individual countries have issued warnings about travel.
And scientists are working on a vaccine for this new virus strain.
SOUNDBITE: (English) Gregory Hartl, spokesman, World Heath Organization: "As I understand it there are currently four of our reference laboratories who are working with seed virus, and they are at various stages of producing the seed virus needed to make the vaccine."
The WHO also emphasized there is no danger from contracting swine flu from eating pork.