By Catherine Dunn May 1, 2009 - 01:11
More countries are issuing, or talking about issuing, Mexico travel advisories related to the swine flu virus, or influenza A(H1N1). Meanwhile US Vice President Joseph Biden appears to be talking about issuing a travel advisory... everywhere.
On Wednesday the World Health Organization raised the flu pandemic alert level to a 5. A 6 would mean a pandemic is underway -- signifying that there is sustained human-to-human transmission of the H1N1 virus in multiple countries.
"We're really connected by a lot of travel, people moving from point to point," said the WHO's Dr. Keji Fukada, explaining the H1N1 flu's global path.
Here we bring you a round up of relevant articles, information, and opinions:
The gist: In straightforward fashion, the WHO "does not recommend restricting international travel." When traveling, they do recommend avoiding crowded, enclosed spaces, and "close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections," and they recommend hand washing and "cough etiquette."
The gist: US travelers should not go to Mexico unless they have to. If you must go, CDC makes these recommendations, including that travelers who are at high risk of severe illness from influenza take antiviral medications.
The gist: If US Vice President Joe Biden had his way, folks wouldn't travel "anywhere in confined spaces now," including airplanes and subway. The good news for Mexico: "It's not just going to Mexico," he told NBC Today Show viewers. The bad news for all of us: his geographical parameter was "anywhere."
The gist: Argentina announced a ban on direct flights from Mexico through Monday, and on Tuesday Cuba announced a "48-hour halt on flights to and from Mexico."
The gist: Health Ministers from the 27 European Union member countries could not agree on whether or not to issue a travel ban to Mexico. In favor of the ban: the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France. Against: Spain, Germany, Austria, Denmark.
The gist: Canada championed the WHO's decision-making power on issuing travel advisories; Toronto's economy lost about $950 million in the wake of SARS-related travel bans back in 2003. So while the US, France, Britain, and Germany also advised citizens against non-essential travel to Mexico, critics are crying foul on Canada for joining their ranks.
The gist: Bolivia's minister of health, Ramiro Tapia said there are no cases of swine flu yet in Bolivia, but that the country has prepared an emergency plan under which access to the country would be restricted to passengers from Mexico. (That also goes for Mexican mega singer Vincente Fernández, who has a May 1 concert scheduled in Bolivia). The minister admitted this would be difficult given that there are no direct flights from Mexico to Bolivia; all air passengers pass through Buenos Aires, Lima and Panama.