GENEVA – Countries from New Zealand to Spain reported suspected cases of swine flu and some warned citizens against travel to North America while others planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers.
Mexico, the United Satates and Canada were the only countries with confirmed human cases of swine flu Sunday as global health officials considered whether to raise the global pandemic alert level.
Nova Scotia’s health officials confirmed four “very mild” cases of swine flu in students ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18. Officials in British Columbia confirmed two further cases.
The news follows the World Health Organization’s decision Saturday to declare the outbreak first detected in Mexico and the United States a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Mexico’s health minister says the disease has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened up to 1,400 since April 13. U.S. officials say the virus has been found in New York, California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio, but so far no fatalities have been reported.
Governments including China, Russia and Taiwan began planning to put anyone with symptoms of the deadly virus under quarantine
Others were increasing their screening of pigs and pork imports from the Americas or banning them outright despite health officials’ reassurances that it was safe to eat thoroughly cooked pork.
Some nations issued travel warnings for Mexico and the United States.
WHO’s emergency committee is still trying to determine exactly how the virus has spread.
New Zealand said that 10 students who took a school trip to Mexico “likely” had swine flu. Israel said a man who had recently visited Mexico had been hospitalized while authorities try to determine whether he had the disease. French Health Ministry officials investigated four possible cases of swine flu, but three were later found to be negative.
Spanish authorities said a total of seven suspected cases were under observation.
Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors who came back from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined. China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival from an affected area had to report to authorities. A Russian health agency said any passenger from North America running a fever would be quarantined until the cause of the fever is determined.
Tokyo’s Narita airport installed a device to test the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico.
Indonesia increased surveillance at all entry points for travellers with flu-like symptoms – using devices at airports that were put in place years ago to monitor for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and bird flu. It said it was ready to quarantine suspected victims if necessary.
Hong Kong and South Korea warned against travel to the Mexican capital and three affected provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela also advised their citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States.
Russia banned the import of meat products from Mexico, California, Texas and Kansas. South Korea said it would increase the number of its influenza virus checks on pork products from Mexico and the U.S.