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Spain reports swine flu case; Travel is upended

 A South Korea Livestock Health Control Association scientist gathers samples from imported Mexican pork at a store in Gwangju, South Korea, to send t...
 Airline passengers, some wearing face masks, arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport being closely monitored for flu-like symptoms Monday Ap...
 In this handout image by Animal Disease Control Center of Chunghua County, central Taiwan, staff spray antibacterial chemicals on pigs in Chunghua co...
 An Indonesian health official monitors arriving passengers with thermal scanners at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, Mo...
 A fully gowned hospital staff stands behind a sign alerting members of the public to report to hospital staff if they have been to certain countries ...
 A woman wearing a mask walks past a flu warning poster outside a local hospital in Hong Kong Monday, April 27, 2009. In Hong Kong, Thomas Tsang, cont...
 A Filipino worker carries a live pig inside the stock room of a roasted pigs outlet in Manila, Philippines on Monday April 27, 2009. Philippine healt...
 A Filipino woman waits beside roasted pigs for sale in Manila, Philippines on Monday April 27, 2009. Philippine health officials say the country rema...
 An airline passenger from Mexico wears a face mask as he presents a sanitary card at Barcelona Airport in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 27, 2009. H...
 Policemen wearing face masks at the Barcelona Airport in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 27, 2009. Health authorities in the country, as in most othe...

South Korea Swine Flu

A South Korea Livestock Health Control Association scientist gathers samples from imported Mexican pork at a store in Gwangju, South Korea, to send t...

Philippines Swine Flu

Airline passengers, some wearing face masks, arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport being closely monitored for flu-like symptoms Monday Ap...

Taiwan Swine Flu

In this handout image by Animal Disease Control Center of Chunghua County, central Taiwan, staff spray antibacterial chemicals on pigs in Chunghua co...

Indonesia Swine Flu

An Indonesian health official monitors arriving passengers with thermal scanners at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, Mo...

Singapore Swine Flu

A fully gowned hospital staff stands behind a sign alerting members of the public to report to hospital staff if they have been to certain countries ...

Hong Kong Swine Flu

A woman wearing a mask walks past a flu warning poster outside a local hospital in Hong Kong Monday, April 27, 2009. In Hong Kong, Thomas Tsang, cont...

Philippines Swine flu

A Filipino worker carries a live pig inside the stock room of a roasted pigs outlet in Manila, Philippines on Monday April 27, 2009. Philippine healt...

Philippines Swine flu

A Filipino woman waits beside roasted pigs for sale in Manila, Philippines on Monday April 27, 2009. Philippine health officials say the country rema...

Spain Swine Flu

An airline passenger from Mexico wears a face mask as he presents a sanitary card at Barcelona Airport in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 27, 2009. H...

APTOPIX Spain Swine Flu

Policemen wearing face masks at the Barcelona Airport in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 27, 2009. Health authorities in the country, as in most othe...

Spain on Monday became the first nation outside North America to confirm a case of swine flu, and the European Union health commissioner urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to the United States and Mexico due to the deadly flu.
Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors returning from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined, while countries from New Zealand to Israel quickly instituted new security measures at airports and put sick travelers under observation.
World stock markets fell Monday as investors worried that a deadly outbreak of swine flu in Mexico could go global and derail any global economic recovery. Airlines took the brunt of the selling, as holiday tour operators in Germany and Japan suspended charter flights to Mexico City.
"(Europeans) should avoid traveling to Mexico or the United States of America unless it is very urgent for them," EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters as she met with the EU foreign ministers on the subject.
As Spanish travel agencies scrambled to find alternatives for tourists who bought packages to Mexico, Russian agencies said 30 percent of those planning to travel to Mexico in early May had already canceled.
President Barack Obama said Monday the threat of spreading swine flu infections was cause for concern but "not a cause for alarm," as the United States stepped up border monitoring.
The number of suspected swine flu cases in Mexico has climbed to 1,614, including as many as 103 deaths, according to Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova. The United States has confirmed at least 20 cases of swine flu, and Canada six.
World Health Organization spokesman Peter Cordingley said the new virus was spreading quickly in Mexico and the southern United States, raising fears of a global pandemic.
"These are early days. It's quite clear that there is a potential for this virus to become a pandemic and threaten globally," Cordingley, WHO's spokesman for the Western Pacific, told AP Television News.
"But we honestly don't know," he added. "We don't know enough yet about how this virus operates. More work needs to be done."
Meanwhile, New Zealand was testing 13 students, their parents and teachers who were showing flu-like symptoms after returning from Mexico. Israel has put two people under observation, while France and Brazil have also reported suspected cases.
Cordingley singled out plane travel as an easy way the virus could spread, noting that the WHO estimates that up to 500,000 people are aboard planes at any time.
Germany's largest holiday tour operator, the Hannover-based TUI, suspended all charter flights to Mexico City through May 4. The suspension includes flights operated by TUI itself and also through companies 1-2 Fly, Airtours, Berge & Meer, Grebeco and L'tur.
TUI said other holiday trips to Mexico would continue to operate but would not make stops in Mexico City "for the next few weeks." Japan's largest tour agency, JTB Corp., suspended tours to Mexico at least through June 30.
Spain's case of swine flu _ confirmed by WHO _ involved a university student who fell ill after returning from Mexico. Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said another 20 sick people in Spain were under observation to determine if they have the disease, but she insisted none of the 21 were in serious condition.
"The situation is under control," Jimenez said.
The student, from the town of Almansa in the central Castilla-La Mancha region, checked in to a clinic Saturday complaining of fever and respiratory problems and was eventually hospitalized.
At Madrid's Barajas International Airport, passengers arriving from Mexico on Monday had to fill out forms detailing where they had been, whether they had felt any cold symptoms and leaving a contact address and phone number.
"Where we were, there was no real alarm but we followed what was happening on the news and we're a little bit worried," said Spaniard Filomeno Ruiz, just back from a week's holiday in Cancun.
Passengers were also given leaflets urging them to contact local health authorities if they should notice any symptoms in the 10 days following arrival.
In the baggage arrival area of the airport, ground crews and police wore blue or white surgical-type face masks.
Some other travelers took precautions even though they had not been in Mexico.
"Nobody has recommended it, but I've put the mask on out of precaution," said Briton Roger Holmes, who was traveling to Tunisia from Madrid. "I'm not afraid but it costs nothing to be careful."
Governments in Asia _ with potent memories of SARS and bird flu outbreaks _ heeded the warning amid global fears of a pandemic.
Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines dusted off thermal scanners used during the 2003 SARS crisis and were checking for signs of fever among passengers arriving at airports from North America. South Korea and Indonesia introduced similar screening.
In Malaysia, health workers wearing face masks took the temperatures of passengers as they arrived from a flight from Los Angeles.
China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival had to report to authorities.
Swiss drug company Roche Holding AG said it could deliver 5 million packages of Tamiflu anywhere in the world within 24 hours. Those WHO-controlled stockpiles are in addition to millions more treatments held by up to 90 governments.
In New Zealand, Health Minister Tony Ryall said two students and a parent among a group of 15 who just came back from a class trip to Mexico had mild flu and were being tested for swine flu. On Sunday, officials said nine students and one teacher from a separate group that also were in Mexico "likely" have swine flu.
Results from a WHO-registered laboratory were expected within days.
All the New Zealand students and teachers along with their families had voluntarily quarantined themselves at home. Prime Minister John Key said everyone showing flu symptoms was being treated with Tamiflu as a precaution. Other passengers and crew on the suspect flights were also being given the antiviral drug, said health department official Julia Peters.
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Associated Press writers Ray Lilley in Auckland, Jorge Sainz and Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Fernando Sepe Jr. in Manila, Gillian Wong in Beijing, Frank Jordans in Geneva, Min Lee in Hong Kong, David Koop in Mexico City, Alex Kennedy in Singapore, Rohan Sullivan in Sydney, Jae Hee Suh in Seoul, Julia Zappei in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow; and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html


Updated : 2021-10-16 09:53 GMT+08:00