SWINE FLU BREAKING NEWS: Case counts, antiviral purchase, worried patients, Mexico timeline, 300 US schools close, Hong Kong quarantine

May 1, 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 331 cases of swine influenza H1N1 in 11 countries as of 6 a.m. GMT today. The case numbers by country are United States, 109 (1 death) (these are yesterday's totals); Mexico, 156 (9 deaths), Canada, 34; Spain, 13; United Kingdom, 8; New Zealand, 3; Germany, 3; Israel, 2; and 1 each in Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. [WHO update 7]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 141 confirmed US cases in 19 states as of 11 a.m. ET today. New York leads the list with 50, followed by Texas, 28; South Carolina, 16, and California, 13. Other states have 4 or fewer cases. [CDC H1N1 flu page]

The US government will buy 13 million treatment courses of antiviral drugs to battle the swine flu, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last night. The new supplies will replace 11 million courses that HHS released to the states this week and add 2 million more, at a cost of $251 million, she said. She also said the government is sending 400,000 courses to Mexico. [HHS news release]

Hospitals and clinics in some parts of the country, including New York, California, and Alabama, are seeing a surge of the worried well—patients who have minor symptoms but major worries about swine flu, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. For example, a pediatric hospital in San Diego is seeing up to 50% more patients than usual.

The first person in Mexico who became ill with what turned out to be the new flu virus got sick on Mar 17, according to an MMWR Dispatch from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The first outbreak was reported to the Pan American Health Organization Apr 12. Mexico had a total of 1,918 suspected cases from Mar 1 through Apr 30, of which 286 were probable and 97 were confirmed. [MMWR Dispatch]

Nearly 300 schools nationwide were closed yesterday because of concern about the new virus, the Washington Post reported today. Most of the schools were in Texas, where all 147 schools in the Fort Worth district were closed for 10 days after one case was confirmed and three probable cases were reported.

Hong Kong has imposed a 7-day quarantine on about 200 guests and staff members of a hotel where a Mexican man who tested positive for swine flu stayed, according to ChannelNewsAsia.com. Authorities were also trying to trace passengers who were on the man's flight from Shanghai. A Hong Kong hotel was the launching pad for the international spread of SARS in 2003.

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