H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Legal issues, surge in China, cheek kissing, nurses want N-95s, vaccine delay

Sep 8, 2009

Report says job questions among top pandemic-related legal issues
Questions related to employment are among the most significant legal issues raised by an influenza pandemic, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in a recent report on pandemic-related legal issues. Compliance with public health measures such as isolation and quarantine are likely to suffer if workers fear pay cuts or firing, the report says. It says workers may have some protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Full text of CRS report

China reports flu rise, predicts vaccine shortage
China's health minister Chen Zhu today called the country's pandemic flu situation "grim," due to a surge in cases and clusters in the wake of schools resuming, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Chen cited worries over a national holiday next month, which will prompt gatherings and travel, and the limited ability of China's flu vaccine company to supply enough pandemic H1N1 vaccine to meet demand. China has confirmed 5,592 cases, but has reported no deaths.
Sep 8 AFP story

Pandemic puts damper on French cheek kiss
To help curb the spread of the pandemic H1N1 virus, French health officials, as well as some companies and schools, are advising people to avoid greeting other with "la bise," the country's traditional cheek-to-cheek kiss, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday. The health ministry's phone hotline recommends avoiding close contact, such as shaking hands or kissing.
Sep 7 AP story

Singapore finds pandemic H1N1 virus in Indonesian pigs
Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has detected the pandemic H1N1 virus in pigs imported from Indonesia, according to a recent report by Channel NewsAsia. While saying that pork sold in Singapore is safe to eat, the agency vowed to step up its inspections of pork products and to work with Indonesian authorities to identify and isolate affected pig houses on farms.

New York nurses group advocates N95 respirators
In an open letter, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) called on the state health department to recommend the use of fit-tested N95 respirators to protect nurses who care for pandemic H1N1 flu patients. The Sep 4 letter said the state's current guidelines, which call for the use of surgical masks, are not adequate. A health department spokeswoman defended the current guidelines and said nurses would be protected by mandatory vaccinations, the New York Daily News reported.

Production delay slows vaccine delivery to Holland
The Dutch health ministry said today a delivery of 18 million doses of pandemic H1N1 vaccine from Novartis slated for the end of October will be late, Dow Jones news reported today. Novartis attributed the delay to "disappointing production result." The country, now expecting 6 to 10 million doses from the company by the end of next month, expects 2 million more from GlaxoSmithKline. Novartis said it hopes to boost yield by using a new seed strain it received from the World Health Organization.

Flu fatal for Ecuador's security chief
Ecuador's presidential security chief, John Merino, died on Sep 6 from a pandemic H1N1 infection, AFP reported today. He was first diagnosed with the novel flu strain on Aug 10. The virus has struck a host of other South American government officials over the past few weeks, including the presidents of Costa Rica and Colombia.

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