With Swine Flu breaking news all over the world, we wanted to make sure our users understand the relevant information and how it might affect their travel plans. To that end, we’ve summarized the most current facts about the disease and will continue to update the NileGuidance blog with additional information, developments and travel tips.
Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its pandemic alert level from level 3 to level 4, indicating a “confirmed person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus able to cause ‘community level’ outbreaks.” However, confirmed cases of Swine Influenza (H1N1) increased only slightly Monday, and the WHO has recommended not to close borders or restrict international travel. UPDATE 4/29: This afternoon, the WHO changed its pandemic alert level from 4 to 5 after an increase in the number of suspected infections and the first death reported in the United States. The new level 5 indicates that a “pandemic is imminent,” however no further travel restrictions have been made.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the organization’s deputy general director, was quoted in the New York Times this morning, saying “a pandemic is not inevitable – the situation is fluid and will continue to evolve.” At present, a total of 50 nonserious confirmed cases have been reported in the United States, including 28 in New York, 7 in California, 2 in Kansas, 2 in Texas, and 1 in Ohio, while the European Center for Disease Control said there were about 40 suspected cases in Europe. In Mexico, where the outbreak originated, Swine Flu is the suspected cause of 149 deaths, though only 20 cases have been confirmed.
If you’re planning a trip south of the border be aware that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. Schools and public venues, including museums, cinemas and church masses, have been closed by government decree in affected major cities until May 6th.
If you already have tickets, check with your airline, as many, including American, United, Continental, US Airways, Mexicana and Air Canada, are waiving usual penalties for changing reservations of tickets to, from or through Mexico.
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Stay tuned to the NileGuidance blog for more updates and travel tips concerning the Swine Flu.