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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Mexico Flu Deaths Rise to 168
The number of deaths authorities are blaming on Mexico’s swine-flu outbreak stood at 168 Thursday as Mexico City's Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said officials may soon be able to downgrade the maximum alert. "The number of infectious cases seems to be stabilizing," said Ebrard.

MEXICO CITY – The number of deaths authorities are blaming on Mexico’s swine-flu outbreak stood at 168 on Wednesday morning, though only 20 of those fatalities have been definitively linked to the A/H1N1 virus.

Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova announced a death toll of 152 in an interview Monday night with Televisa television, but municipal officials in this capital subsequently reported three more flu-related deaths.

Hours before, the secretary had said at a press conference that the panorama was “hopeful,” since the death rate due to the outbreak of swine flu had fallen over the past three days.

He also said that there had been a reduction in the number of people infected in the last few hours, since on Monday there were 110 cases compared with 119 on Sunday and 141 on Saturday.

Cordova said that starting Tuesday laboratory tests will start in Mexico to confirm the presence in patients of the A/H1N1 virus, since up to now samples have been send outside the country because of the lack of equipment for making the diagnosis here.

He said that by Wednesday, when additional equipment is due to arrive, Mexico will be able to carry out as many as 600,000 tests per day.

Mexico City’s mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, said Tuesday that since Saturday the cases of probable contagion of swine flu in the capital have diminished.

The mayor said at a press conference that results from the measures being taken by the authorities and inhabitants “are beginning to be seen,” for which he made a call for everyone to “stay on track.”

Nonetheless, between Monday night and Tuesday morning, three more deaths were recorded that could have been caused by the disease, as well as 31 probable infections.

In the Mexican capital, 25 deaths are now attributed to the A/H1N1 virus.

On Monday 14 people were released from hospital, the highest figure since the epidemic began, although 89 patients remain hospitalized with symptoms compatible with those of swine flu.

The city’s health secretary, Armando Ahued, said that only 29 of the 6,610 people who went to clinics Monday complaining of flu symptoms required hospitalization.

On Monday the federal government decreed the suspension of classes in all preschools, schools and universities in the country, a ruling that has affected 33 million students.

Local authorities in Mexico City, who have already ordered restaurants and bars to close at 6 p.m., have instructed sports clubs and pool halls to “suspend their activities” starting Wednesday.

The capital government has established a fund it is currently providing with 150 million pesos ($10.7 million) to care for affected families, patients who have lost their jobs or income, and companies that have been hurt.

The World Health Organization has sounded a phase-4 alert that swine flu could become a pandemic.

Even so, the WHO recommended that borders not be closed nor international travel restricted.

After this announcement, Cordova said that the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada agreed to hold scientific meetings to “jointly and efficiently undertake activities for the prevention and containment” of swine flu.

While the emergency lasts, besides classes being suspended, theater shows and massive official ceremonies have been canceled, including the commemoration of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862, victory over French invaders at the Battle of Puebla. EFE

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