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Mexico to host swine flu summit in Cancun

Hong Kong reports first domestic human swine flu case
Hong Kong health authorities on Wednesday reported the territory's first case of human swine flu where the person had caught the virus within the city. Thomas Tsang, controller of the Centre for Health Protection, said the patient, a 55-year-old man, had caught the A(H1N1) virus at an event which another known swine flu patient had attended. "He had no travel history during the incubation period. We find he had been at the same cocktail party function as the confirmed case on June 5," Tsang told reporters. Tsang said the man had not travelled outside the city in the previous month. There have been more than 45 confirmed cases of human swine flu infection in Hong Kong, but all the previous cases caught the virus while travelling abroad. In a separate case, Tsang said that a 16-year-old secondary school student had tested positive in initial tests for swine flu. Another seven of the girl's classmates were also displaying flu-like symptoms and officials had advised the school to close, Tsang said. The latest cases came more than a month after Hong Kong officials confirmed Asia's first case of the A(H1N1) virus, sparking the week-long quarantine of around 300 guests and staff at a city hotel. The city is very nervous about infectious diseases following the outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003, which killed 300 people here and 800 worldwide after one carrier spread the disease in a Hong Kong hotel. According to the latest World Health Organisation figures, human swine flu has infected more than 26,000 people in 73 countries across the world, killing 140 people, mainly in Mexico and North America. WHO assistant director general Keiji Fukuda said Tuesday the WHO was on the verge of declaring an official swine flu pandemic, saying it was working to prepare countries for raising its alarm to the highest level. On Tuesday, Chinese state media said the country now had 100 confirmed cases of swine flu, while Lebanon, Egypt and Italy all reported fresh infections.

Guatemala may advance school holidays as flu cases rise
Guatemala was Tuesday to consider advancing school vacations as part of measures to contain the spread of swine flu, after cases of A(H1N1) rose to 60 in one week. Vice President Rafael Espada said the health and education ministries would propose starting school holidays on Friday instead of in the last week of June. "I wouldn't be surprised if we had more than 100 cases at the end of the month, because that's how this kind of epidemic behaves," Espada said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers. Congress was also considering removing taxes on antiviral medicines, said Roberto Alejos, the parliament's leader. Guatemala's health minister announced 10 new swine flu cases Monday, bringing the total to 60 cases in the Central American country, of which 48 have totally recovered. The World Health Organization on Tuesday assessed that the world was getting "very very close" to a swine flu pandemic, saying that it was racing to prepare countries for such a situation. Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general, said 26,563 infections including 140 deaths have been reported to the health agency from 73 countries.
by Staff Writers
Mexico City (AFP) June 8, 2009
Mexico will next month host an international summit on swine flu at the Caribbean beach resort of Cancun, the country's health minister said Monday.

Representatives from 40 countries and the directors general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization will take part in the summit from July 1 to 3, Jose Angel Cordova said in a statement.

Less than two months after the A(H1N1) virus first emerged, Cordova said the epidemic was now under control.

A few isolated cases have emerged this month, the last reported on June 3 and the last death on May 31, raising the number of fatalities in Mexico to 106.

The health minister said he may be able to remove a flu alert here later this month.

Swine flu has now spread to 73 countries with 25,288 people known to have been infected and 139 people killed, according to the latest WHO tally. It was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April.

Cordova said Mexico was working on a project to create a swine flu vaccine, which could be ready in three months.

He was speaking after a meeting Japanese deputy foreign minister Shintaro Ito. The two discussed strategies to combat the virus.

Japan has confirmed 342 cases of A(H1N1), according to the health ministry.

Mexico has launched a massive campaign to bring back tourists, particularly to Pacific and Caribbean coast resorts including Cancun, after the virus dealt a heavy blow to the industry, compounding the impact of the global economic crisis.

earlier related report
Five on cruiser test positive for swine flu
Five crew members on a cruise ship which passed through Alaska last week tested positive for the swine flu virus, state health officials confirmed Monday.

A spokesman for the Alaska Division of Public Health confirmed five crew on board Holland America's Zaandam were diagnosed with the A(H1N1) virus after tests carried out in the port city of Ketchikan.

A statement from the ship's operators Holland America, owned by Carnival Corp, said the ship was on a seven-day trip which ended in Seattle on June 5.

Affected crew members were immediately isolated in their cabins after showing initial flu-like symptoms, the statement said. All affected crew were treated and subsequently recovered, it added.

No passengers aboard the cruise had been diagnosed with the virus, the statement added.

The company said all passengers aboard a current cruise by the Zaandam, which departed Seattle on June 5, had been made aware of the incident. All elected to embark for the voyage.

According to latest figures from the World Health Organization, swine flu has now spread to 73 countries with more than 25,000 people infected since the disease was first uncovered in April.

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Swine flu spreads to 73 countries with over 25,000 infected
Geneva (AFP) June 8, 2009
Swine flu has now spread to 73 countries with 25,288 people known to have been infected since the disease was first uncovered in April, data from the World Health Organisation showed Monday. The number of deaths rose to 139 after 14 more deaths were reported, according to the latest WHO tally of confirmed influenza A(H1N1) cases. Most of the new cases were reported by the United States ... read more

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