Special Report: World Tackles Swine Flu
MEXICO CITY, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Mexican government has stepped up its preventive measures against swine flu as the confirmed and suspected cases of the disease are rising.
Mexican health minister Jose Angel Cordova said on Monday that 1,995 people had been hospitalized as the disease was spreading. So far, the pandemic has taken 152 lives.
To curb the galloping of the virus, the government has ordered stop of all school activities throughout the country until May 6, from kindergartens to universities.
The minister said that two labs would be set up soon with an added daily capability of conducting 100 tests.
Cuban Public Health Ministry said on Monday it would adopt precautionary measures to avoid the entrance of swine flu to the country.
Due to the human to human transmission and concerns over a possible global pandemic, Cuba has reinforced measures at its airports and ports, the ministry said in a statement.
Cuban health authorities also advised citizens to wash their hands frequently, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and seek medical treatments when experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Argentina on Monday stepped up its safety measures against the swine flu outbreak by paying special attention to passengers coming from Mexico or the United States.
Passengers arriving at the Ezeiza International Airport, as well as airports in Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Cordoba, should fill a question form and swear that they have no symptoms related to swine flu.
Panama increased its vigilance at airports and ports to impede the spread of the swine flu virus from Mexico and the U.S.
Panamanian health authorities said a group of doctors and nurses would assist at full time those people with flu-like symptoms at the international airport of Tocumen.
Antiviral drugs of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza) were also stockpiled in the country, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), could work against the virus.
In Bolivia, a sanitary alert has been issued with doctors deployed in all airports to check passengers suspected of possible virus carriers.
The Chilean government on Monday denied the presence of swine flu in the country, saying that only three suspected cases had been reported.
"We have studied the cases and they proved negative, so those people will be sent back home," Chilean Health Minister Alvaro Erazo said.
Since last Friday, Chilean authorities have given medicine to all local hospitals and set a sanitary barrier in the entrances tothe country, including the international airport of Santiago.
Costa Rican Vice Health Minister Ana Morice on Monday said a total of 17 people were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms while 10 of them have tested negative and the other seven were waiting for lab results.
Morice said health centers in Costa Rica have adopted specific protocols of isolation and observation in case of suspected cases.
Hospitals throughout the country have increased vigilance against the disease since Friday and the government has planned to buy 25,000 doses of Tamiflu which could work against the disease, the vice minister said.
In Brazil, the health ministry on Monday began to distribute 100,000 pamphlets on preventive information of the swine flu at the airports of Rio do Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
According to Brazilian authorities, about 7,000 passengers coming from the U.S. arrive in Brazil every day.
The country has launched the same preventive plan it launched in 2006 for bird flu. Last Friday, measures were put in place to inspect cargo and luggage, and to clean and disinfect aircraft and ships at ports of entry.
The Honduran government on Monday ordered the ban of pork imports from Mexico and the United States and enhanced border and airport checks. It also asked the Pan American Health Organization for a supply of antiviral drugs, especially Oseltamivir by the brand name of Tamiflu.
Honduran authorities also began discussions with their Mexican counterparts to suspend the deportation of Honduran undocumented immigrants until the swine flu epidemic in Mexico finished.
In Venezuela, the government on Monday advised Venezuelan to avoid trips to the U.S. and Mexico. Health Minister Jesus Mantilla said people entering Venezuela from the U.S. and Mexico had been asked to register their names and addresses.
Meanwhile, health ministers from Central American countries are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Managua, Nicaragua, to discuss the swine flu outbreak in Mexico.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who is serving as temporary president of the Central American Integration System, urged his counterparts to hold a meeting with the health ministers and make common strategies to avoid swine flu spreading in Central American nations.