By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, April 27 – Cuba’s health and civil defense authorities have announced a series of measures to prevent a possible outbreak of swine flu that is affecting Mexico, the United States, Canada and several European countries.
No cases of swine flu have been reported so far on the island. Over recent years Cuba has developed a system to face possible epidemics after the spread in some countries of bird flu.
The authorities announced that special preventive measures were being taken at Cuban airports and ports and “limiting flights to and from Mexico,” where so far the most cases of swine flu have been recorded with over a hundred deaths.
The outbreak has hit hardest in and around Mexico City where over the weekend soldiers handed out some six million masks, reported the BBC.
The Cuban Public Health system is activating all its epidemiological watch capacity and is preparing to take whatever measures are necessary, “depending on the evolution of the situation”, notes a statement published on Monday.
The authorities recommended that the population “step up personal and collective hygiene including covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, frequently washing hands and maintaining cleanliness at homes and workplaces, as well as seeking medical attention when necessary.”
One immediate affect is that the swine flu alert is already raising havoc in the US and Mexican tourist industries.
As an example of the magnitude of the scare, the BBC reported that Germany’s largest tour operator has suspended trips to Mexico. Likewise, the New York Times said that the fear of a global pandemic led the European Union health commissioner to urge European citizens “to avoid traveling the United States or Mexico.”
Nonetheless, taking a wait and see attitude, the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to issue any recommendation of travel restrictions, reported the L.A. Times.
Experts are rushing to estimate just how dangerous the new Type A (H1N1) swine flu strain will be, gathering data on the outbreak in Mexico and other countries.
Cuba is known for its nationwide civil defense network that last year had to confront three powerful hurricanes.