Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 06:52 UK

How can we avoid a swine flu pandemic?

Alleyn's school in London
A school in London is shut after pupils there tested positive

The World Health Organization says 1,490 people around the world have so far contracted the H1N1 swine flu virus. What are your concerns about the virus?

Some 26 people have died of the virus in Mexico, but only two fatalities have been recorded outside that country.

In the UK, delivery begins of specially-produced leaflets offering advice on swine flu and advice on how to prevent its spread

This debate is now closed. A selection of your comments appear below.

We are having serious technical problems with the usual Have Your Say service which our engineers are working to fix.

A selection of your comments to this debate appear below. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Your most recent comments:

The government's leaflets are on about the same level as the governments instructions in the Raymond Brigg's children's books, to seal the windows in case of a nuclear attack. Ie useless. Using a tissue won't stop a pandemic…but then there have meant to be so many of those, haven't there? Of course, the leaflets will waste a lot more of my money, and yours.
Susie Green, Hampstead UK

There have been two suspected cases of Swine Flu in this city and one in the vicinity (Cameron County at the southern end of the state of Texas). The local school district has cancelled all classes until May 10, the local university campus (University of Texas at Brownsville- Texas Southmost College) is still open but it is under "health guard", some students, staff and even indoor food vendors, are wearing masks. The atmosphere is nervous in the lower Rio Grande Valley since just across the border lies Mexico, where a more serious condition related to swine flu is occurring.
Alejandro Hernandez, Brownsville, Texas

Just arrived in India on flight from UK. They are taking lots of precautions - spraying plane internally before landing, medical questionnaires and interviews with doctors, everyone at airport wearing facemasks. Makes you realise we're ones at centre of epidemic.
Seancito, Delhi, India

We can't avoid a pandemic but we can make things easier for ourselves whilst it is going on. Pandemic only means it is global and established in communities. It doesn't mean it is serious. It spreads like this because it is a new virus, a mutating virus. That's what makes it unknown and all we can do is be prepared. I think there is no overreaction on the flu so far. I'm just glad I live in a country which has the resources to manage the situation unlike other poorer countries.
Ali, Newcastle

Still these figures are less than the normal winter flu bugs that hit us every winter! I am not panicking it is common sense and good hygiene practices! I did smile today as all hand alcohol gel in my local supermarket had been sold out! What does that tell you?
Su, Manchester

It is amazing to witness the negative repercussions for a country that acted responsibly towards a world threat. It is unbelievable that China has treated Mexican people as if they were disposable trash. It seems that nobody remembers that they hid the bird flu for several weeks until it got out of control. This situation only demonstrates the lack of knowledge about epidemic crisis management from these and many other countries. Everybody should rise their voices and congratulate Mexico and its people for their commitment and responsibility.
Michael Evans, Chester, England

The WHO Says that 1,200 people worldwide have contracted it? While their own website says that a child dies of Malaria EVERY 30 SECONDS. Why is so much attention being paid to this 'pandemic' is it because it is something we might catch in our sanitized developed world?
Kirk, Bristol, UK

I am so angry about the way the communist Chinese authorities have treated the Mexican citizens that simply happened to be in China at the time of the outbreak. How dare they lock up and confine a load of innocent people who, even after testing, proved negative for even a common cold let alone Human Flu.
Samantha Mace, Mexico City, Mexico

It might be too early to say that swine flu is "mild", but clearly it's not as deadly as "normal" flu. Hundreds of thousands die each year from normal flu, but a significantly smaller amount of people have died directly as a result of swine flu. Deaths in Mexico have apparently been caused by poor health care causing complications, yet all we see are sensationalist headlines and irresponsible press releases from organisations that should be trying to minimise the impact it's having on our lives.
Paul Trundle, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Ooh, specially produced leaflets - well that's us saved then, eh? Why go to all the trouble of stopping the disease entering the country and quarantining those who've come back from infected parts when you can distribute specially produced leaflets? Honestly...
Dave, Reading

I don't think we can avoid it, it just something that will happen at some point. What worries me is if the virus is only mild, is dishing out tamiflu like its going out of fashion going to help if it a) becomes resistant and b) becomes less mild. Same happened with antibiotics!
WaitingPatiently, Notts

I am 12 and I feel the media have over-reacted about Swine Flu. People should not be as worried as they are, there are people at my school thinking that you can catch Swine flu from pigs, which is not true. News programmes, newspapers etc. have definitely responded more strongly than is necessary and I think you need to reassure people that this is not a crisis.
Emily , Staffordshire

We can't avoid it; it's already here and already the 'spin machine' is in action to re-assure us that adequate arrangements have been made to protect us! If you believe that, well!!!
James, Southminster, UK

It seems to me that the advice of the WHO is eminently sensible. There is no reason for panic but, at the same time, none for complacency. It may turn out that this particular flu strain is no more life-threatening than the strains that kill people every year all over the world. The extreme reactions such as slaughtering pigs or banning their import are obviously not based on scientific or medical grounds, but political ones.
John Holden-Peters, Conil, Spain

It seems to me that reducing peoples contact with each other is the best way forward. Maybe by discouraging large scale events and reducing the working week temporarily would reduce chances of a pandemic. But with capitalist ideas prominent in society these changes would never happen.
Liam, nottingham uk

Wouldn't we all be better off catching it while it's mild and partially inoculating ourselves against it before it mutates into something more serious (if in fact it does rather than going the other way)?
annelid, london uk

1. Get a grip!

2. Observe normal hygiene routines.

3. Keep healthy with reasonable diet and exercise.

4. Wait for next panic inducing national crisis but meanwhile get on with life.
Denis, Leeds, Yorkshire

Why has the government wasted thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pounds on leaflets, I think the country already knows about Swine Flu, why not make an educational advert and show it on the BBC repeatedly, direct to peoples homes, will be passively taken on board, we all are aware of the steps to be taken following a stroke after being bombarded by the FACE adverts, these leaflets are a massive waste of money and a gimmick by the government to win support.

Leaflets are a waste of time. If people sneeze and cough into their hands, or in the air, a leaflet won't change their filthy habits. No wonder Britain has so many cases of STD, dirty public. Better issue tissues and slap a heavy fine on people caught having 'unprotected' coughs and sneezes!
Malka, London, England

No offence BBC but if people want to avoid the epidemic of swine flu then they should avoid reading any media related articles about it and have the common sense (and the pamphlet being distributed) to look after themselves and see a GP if actually necessary.
Adam, Portsmouth

As long as we have these slave-driving, despicable employers who insist on ill employees coming in to work to spread the 'love', we will have the potential for a dangerous epidemic. Any employer caught mistreating an employee who is trying not to spread this disease should have their company closed down in reprisal.
Kang, Devon

What a lot of rubbish about swine flu..How many people die each day from ordinary flu...It's a farce...whipped up by the media..Basically news programmes are on 24 hrs a day...just looking for something to get their teeth into...The drug companies must be rubbing their hands in glee..Millions more in their pockets...The British public are so gullible..see it in the papers and news and its true...I DESPAIR
Terry, Bournemouth UK

What a complete farce. How many people have died of ordinary flu? How many people have died from malaria, or leprosy or the common cold. There's 6 billion people in the world and we are being swamped by the government and media over less than 200 deaths. What absolute nonsense.
bob, uk

My wife was asked by a checkout assistant at the supermarket if she was sure she wanted to buy the sausages and bacon she had put on the conveyor belt because of the risk of swine flu. She went on to inform her that she and her boyfriend had boycotted all forms of pig meat as a precaution. Perhaps the media have blown this flu out of proportion and are starting to needlessly worry some people?

We should not over-react, stop sensationalising it. In a few weeks we will all be saying "What was the fuss?" I suspect a cry wolf scenario will develop over the years to come.
Eric de la Harpe, Reading, UK

Own shares in some pharmaceutical companies? Then it's good news so stop worrying. This outbreak of more "dangerous-than normal flu" will be a nice boost their income. It's good to know that these large corporations know how to boost sales in a recession.
Mr Smith

It is time for people to take some personal responsibility and develop good hygiene practice. Sadly lacking in many I see using public toilets and not washing their hands. Coughing, sneezing and worst of all spiting in public places. Since influenza spreads through aerosols and contact with contaminated surfaces, it is important to persuade people to cover their mouths while sneezing and to wash their hands regularly Good personal health and hygiene habits, like hand washing, are reasonably effective in avoiding and minimizing influenza. It won't stop it but will limit the spread of the virus. Please don't spread your germs
Jobrite, Worthing

In the US this flu has been mild and the few infected recover quickly. I would guess that where there is widespread poverty and malnutrition this flu could be far more fatal. Some scientists are saying that a pandemic starts with a mild outbreak in the spring, abates, and then comes roaring back. But this is speculation. Looking at the current facts on the ground there is no fear of a pandemic, at least not in North America (including Mexico). The chief cautions would help: avoid eating at restaurants and fast food places, wash your hands often, do not shake hands, avoid having people over to the house. Above all, stay home when sick.
John McGrath, Providence, USA

Let's hope that no-one in the leaflet distribution depot has swine flu! More seriously, is this media panic not a glorious opportunity to postpone June's council elections?
John Rogers, Bristol, England

If, as is now believed, this swine flu virus is mild, I think the level of panic is unnecessary. Surely, if it is mild, let it spread through the population so that immunity to a more serious outbreak predicted for the autumn can be built up. Is this too simple an attitude?
Sheila Jenkin, Jersey

In the Flu Instructions

You Sneeze then go and wash your hands. But having washed your hands you then turn off the tap that you last touched with your flu hands and re contaminate your self. We need surgeon style Scrub Up taps that you operate with your elbows.
Ctizenxxx, London, UK

We should NOT be trying to avoid contact with this flu! It is very mild and by being exposed, we may well get some immunity if it comes back later and more virulent. This is another "hype" to make news and to help the governments of the world get away from the money crisis
Pete Cleverley, Rushden, Northants

Is this a very strange and rare co-incidence or was it man made? How can four strains of a virus co-mingle from different continents and become swine flu? Not the hand of god but the hand of man getting an experiment wrong or is it more sinister?

H Supra, London

No it's natural. The Flu's RNA is in 8 pieces, so if a single cell is infected by more than one strain, those pieces get mixed up and a new strain is formed. It's totally natural.
Xaccers, Milton Keynes

In readiness for the severe bout of flu which is destined to hit us this winter, why don't Companies, Schools, Train Stations, Airports, Bus Stations and anywhere people congregate, have bottles of the gel used in hospitals at strategic points, so that anyone passing these points can use the gel. It just may cut down on the numbers of people who may catch any strain of flu.
Maureen, Reigate

A pandemic in the US would be 30 million sick and 3 million dying. To date none, zero, zilch US citizens have died and only a very small hospital size group may or may not be sick. This is just more global warming and Y2K "consensus" parading as pseudo science nonsense.
John B, Windermere, US

Almost everyone has had flu at sometime in their lives and yes it can kill the weak and older people but we live with that on a daily basis. This flu is no different and no more deadly so why all the fuss and media hype - Ever heard of crying wolf?
John Wils, Castleford

I had a friend at school who was always off because he was ill. His mum sanitised everything and he had to wear coats every time he left the house, even in summer. I wonder why he was off all the time??????? Have not all previous pandemics in Britain occurred at a time before the Second World War, when we were less knowledgeable about transmission and hygiene??
A, Maidenhead

Not worried at all. This is just the latest variant of the 'we are all going to die horribly' syndrome that seems to regularly infect people for no logical reason...nuclear war, new ice age, global warming, Sars, Aids, Millennium bug, foot and mouth, bird flu... I should be dead many times already if the media are to be believed. Swine flu has killed less people than die in road accidents over one weekend, so how about getting a sense of proportion? it's not exactly Ebola is it! Iran or North Korea getting A-bombs is far more worrying but nothing is being done.
Mark Solomon, Alicante Spain

I'm presuming that this is largely an ingenious plan to stimulate the world economy through creating a rush on medicine and medical products. After all, who is going to have the greatest ability to produce these - largely the wealthy countries who are "suffering" most through the recession. Yes people have died and that is awful, but I have yet to see any evidence that the problem is as big as we are told it is. If I do, then I will take 'precautions'. I already wash my hands and sneeze into tissues - it's all basic commonsense!
Fuzzlyone, Southend-on-sea

Let's all have swine 'flu parties now so that we have some immunity for when the more severe form strikes in autumn and winter.
Hazel, Erith, Kent

Jo- As an Infection Control Nurse you should allay the fears of your children better than you seemingly have been doing. As for those saying that there should be mass fear because 'some' people may be more susceptible. This is like saying no one should cross a road because some people are more susceptible to getting knocked over. If you're got a problem with your sight/balance...don't go crossing roads unaided. If you're more susceptible to flu, take better precautions yourself.
Mark B, London

I think that it is over the top and we should all just calm down about it. We should take it with a pinch of salt.
Shaun Scotford, Tetbury

Why should we? Is it more dangerous than, for instance: street gangs? Or drink and driving? Plus, if we want to do something about mutant, virulent and resistant viruses, how about treat the problem at the source? For instance take a good look at animal farming and how it is done?
EML, Switzerland

I heard that Swine Flu contains the viral code fragments from:

• Human influenza

• Bird Flu from North America

• Swine flu from Europe

• Swine flu from Asia

Is this a very strange and rare co-incidence or was it man made? How can four strains of a virus co-mingle from different continents and become swine flu? Not the hand of god but the hand of man getting an experiment wrong or is it more sinister?
H Supra, London

The question should not be 'can we', but 'should we': Surely the flu organism has aright to share this planet with us - are we mercilessly exterminating it just because it doesn't have a furry coat and big brown eyes? Equal rights for flu bugs!
Marshal Jim Duncan, Dundee

It seems we already have, 1000 cases worldwide, 20 dead and the few that caught it had no more than a sniffle. What a load of sensationalist rubbish. Still it kept the real news off the screen didn't it.
Jon Sanderson, Retford

I think that all the schools in the area should close where the infection has been verified. When the infection has gone they should return. Kids mix with other kids from other schools which will tend to be local to there area so there is a good chance to spread those schools too
Martin Rutter, Nottingham

Do we really need the government to tell us to wash our hands, cover our mouth when we cough and use a hankie when we sneeze? Its basic hygiene. I am more concerned about what is going on whilst the government is blowing this out of proportion. What do they not want us to know?
Julie, Bristol, England

Is it really necessary to send a leaflet to every home in the UK? How much is this costing? It seems to be such a worthless exercise.
Roger, London

Many of the great pandemics in history spread because humans did not change their behaviour. It may seem we are overreacting now, but better now than if it mutates or claims more lives, just as flu occasionally does.
Charles, Orlando, FL, USA

Firstly The 1918 Flu pandemic killed less than 1% of those it infected - it just infected a lot of people. I for one think they should let this 'mild' version run rampant - so that if it reappears in a more hostile form we will already have immunity. Less than 200 have died due to this flu - in the same period over 5000 have died from 'seasonal' flu.
Psycho B Delic, Brighton, UK

It is strange that when I looked on have your say yesterday there were many recent posts talking about how out of hand the media had become with the way they no longer report news but hype and distort it. Interesting that now the Have your say page is 'having technical' problems and the recent post the BBC have decided to display while the tech problems are sorted out are not these same posts... Come on BBC news get back to being a decent news provider not a gossip and fear creator
John Siddique, Hebden Bridge

This is just the excuse that Governments need to bring in more draconian measures to 'protect' the public whilst eroding their civil liberties. Stop listening to the hype and get a life. This is flu and some people will die from it but the overwhelming majority will survive with no lasting effects - just like any other flu.
Sapperre, Sheffield, England

WHO has unfortunately blown this one completely out of proportion and as a result, this panic is affecting markets around the world. In the economic climate in which we currently are, bodies like the UN, OECD etc. should be extremely careful in making dire pronouncements. Unfortunately the UN type pundits are not directly affected by market vacillations and they frequently jeopardize others lives by their "erudite predictions". I hope there is a law against these people.
Philip, Amsterdam

Yawn, yawn, yawn. Mild flu grabs the headlines and everyone is making a meal of it.
Ray Skinner, Brighton

Firstly, I think everyone should adhere to proper hygiene that means using warm/hot water and washing hands with soap/anti-bacterial liquid handwash, don't just run your hands under a cold tap that isn't going to kill germs that may be on your hands & under finger nails.
Karen, Sittingbourne, UK

Perhaps some hand gel through every door with the information leaflet on avoiding spreading germs? I think this country has poor hygiene standards to start with. The amount of times I have been in a public toilet and watched in horror as women leave without washing their hands! It does not inspire confidence in the general publics ability to take extra precautions if they already find basic hygiene a challenge?! Some shock tactics would heighten peoples awareness. Could we place pictures of heighlighted germs on taps and door handles in public toilets?
Mary, Newcastle

The TV ads and the leaflet, what a complete waste of money, telling us things like use a tissue if you sneeze. What a dumbed down country we have become. Totally overblown and a fuss about nothing
Lee, herts, UK

Easy way to avoid the pandemic: Forget about it. Even if it reaches your area, the chances of catching it by person-to-person infection are very low. Even then, just go and get some Tamiflu and go home.
Chris Horner, Wakefield West Yorkshire

People could stop being so selfish and irresponsible when they have a couch or cold and try using a hanky! They could also stay home to avoid passing it on.
Rosy Knight, Sheffield

I think it is up to countries how they curb the spread of swine flu. These governments have one mission in mind which is to prevent the transmission of the swine flu. WHO is not helping in any way by telling governments not to close borders. i mean we are scared for our lives and hence look up to our governments to protect us. this means they have to do anything to protect us and if that means closing borders then that has to be done.
Tshepang Maxala, Gaborone

At the moment swine flu doesn't seem dangerous outside Mexico. Would it not be better if we catch it now,(rather than in winter when they say it will be worse,)so we then develop immunity and don't get it when its a worse form? Does anyone know why authorities are not doing this ?
blue-eyedanna35, Leicester uk

The Media, as usual, have blown it completely out of proportion. On Monday night's BBC news there was a report of a 'MASS breakout' of flu at a school that had subsequently closed. Were 600 pupils infected? 60? NO - there were 6 pupils infected!!! Since when has 6 pupils in a group of a few hundred or more constituted MASS? Try giving us the facts instead of a deluge of spin and hype. My advice would be to switch of the TV news and cancel your newspapers - it's no worse than any other flu that we've been exposed to!
Bill Poland, Liverpool

Here in Hong Kong, the response has been quick and very efficient. Some may say an over-reaction by the people, or scaremongering by the government. However in a country which suffered so badly during SARS and one where H5N1 flu has been encountered, who can blame anyone? There are more people on the streets in masks but they're a fairly common sight anyway. Otherwise people don't seem overly concerned and it is business as usual.
Richard Ackroyd, Tung Chung, Hong Kong

Sneezing into 1. a tissue or 2. ones sleeve are essential habits left over from the time of the Black plague. In China they also take off their outdoor shoes and wear indoor slippers, also provided for guests. It was learned by hard experience in the land where both swine and bird flu originate. Wouldn't this be another useful habit to encourage here?
Guy Nott-Bower, Bodmin, Cornwall

We need to have this flu if our immune systems are to remain strong. If we insist on living in near sterile conditions we are making ourselves more vulnerable.
Graham, Shrewsbury

The more pertinent question is "How do we contain the media driven panic?" You're supposed to be a public service -not a scaremonger/gossip machine. Did you know that, worldwide (over the last 12 months), over 5000 people have died from 'seasonal' flu... Man up.
M Tomlinson, Amesbury, UK

I live in Hong Kong and was here during the SARS outbreak. Both that and the Swine Flu have been horribly over blown - the reaction has been extreme and costly. There are flu outbreaks every year. In the US 36,000 people every year year die of it. In that context this outbreak is insignificant. Why the big fuss about this particular strain ?
Graham, Hong Kong

We probably can't avoid spread of an infection that could be brought in from any country in the world now - so we should not try to quarantine any suspected infected person. all we can do is take sensible precautions to minimise spread within families and workplaces. It is only flu! The mortality rate is not known but appears to be very low and most people are not seriously ill. lets have some perspective from media reports please.
Joe Dugdale, Buxton England

Throwing the full might of precautions put in place to fight a 'deadly' H1N5 flu on a milder H1N1 flu seems wastful and costly. There will be carnage if this outbreak is followed by Bird flu and all the anti-virals have been used up or anti-viral resistance gets passed on to H1N5.
Steve, Bersaillin, France

The "pandemic" scare serves to keep many highly paid doctors and scientists in jobs at flu crisis centres all over the world. If there are no scares they loose their job, so we are guaranteed a good scare every couple of years -- remember the bird flu which was going to kill us all. The trouble is that to keep their taxpayer funded jobs, they ruin the livelihoods of thousands of people, poultry farmers and pig farmers spring to mind. They should be made to pay their salaries in reparation. If this happened I and sure the number of scares would drop drastically.
John, Bordeaux, France

I am astonished and disgusted by the number of people who sneeze without covering their noses and mouths. I thought this was something everyone learned at their mother's knee.
David, Cambridge UK

I'd like to know why spitting is also not listed this a known way of some viruses being spread. I cannot see this mentioned. Nothing is that brilliant here in the UK we have people wandering around yet a third world country takes more proactive approach with scanners..!
Amanda Croxton, Birmingham

Mark E said the the high death toll in 1918 was "a consequence of 4 years of war and resulting stress, poor health care and diet." This is not true. The 1918 flu killed the strongest people. This was because the 1918 flu caused the immune system to overreact: those with strong and healthy immune systems overreacted most and died. The weaker members of society, ironically, had a better chance of surviving.
Paul Johnson, Brentwood, Essex

I am not taking any precautions.

I have just as much chance of getting ordinary flu as I am of getting swine flu and if what everybody is saying is true it wont be any worse. Where was all the precaution awareness in winter when the flu was going around then? People still became ill and hospitalised where was all the government warning then? The same preventative measures apply as well.
Belinda Fry, Carshalton

At this time, the virus is relatively benign. The only way to be protected is to get immunity. In the great Spanish Flu, those that got it the first time around were much more likely to survive the following waves. Quite frankly, I would really like to be exposed to this virus now while the symptoms are mild, so that I can develop immunity. I'm beginning to think that the hysterical isolation of all infected persons may be what will make future waves more lethal

From what experts say, the most worrying possible outcome would be, if the strain mutated into a much harmful form and came back with strength during the autumn flu season. Would it be better if we all caught the mild form now?
John, Southsea

You can't. It's as simple as that. As a Government, all that realistically can be done is to ensure that sufficient treatments are on hand to help those infected to recover. Happily, it appears that in the UK we have amassed a large enough stockpile.
Jeremy, Maidenhead Berkshire

I have already had spam scam e-mails trying to sell me cut-price Tamiflu and/or utterly useless protective masks. The tone of these has been "buy this drug/mask now or die, or your family will die, the choice is yours" This sort of thing really makes the red-mist descend.
Philip Le Roux, Aldershot Hampshire

The good thing is that more information is available through TV and the web. The bad thing is that there's so much information being sent out it's difficult to absorb what's right and wrong. Taking the usual cleanliness precautions is good. Most people have already been vaccinated against previous flu strains. So we all have some built-in immunity against this new strain.
Jon Schuller, Charlotte, NC USA

It seems to me we are eventually going to reap what we have sown. If you intensively breed and farm animals and keep them in overcrowded, unclean conditions, disease is going to spread.
Dorothy, Bristol

Man alone in Mexico City
Parts of Mexico City remain deserted in a bid to stop the disease spreading

If I hear the word pandemic once more, I will scream. I cannot believe the amount of hype attached to this non issue. People get the flu every year, and yes some people die. This is a weak strain and not avian flu. Let's move on.
Ron, Seattle, WA USA

I think we are lucky to have the media communications that make it possible for us to know almost immediately when there is a potential flu outbreak. We are also very lucky to have government programs made to monitor such cases. Without the communications and knowledge we have today these flu outbreaks could very easily turn out like the flu epidemic of 1918-1920.
Noah, Wenatchee, United States

I think that we do not have to become crazy as this illness is affecting all the world but as long as we respect, and follow all the measures, we can help to avoid the spread of it.
Mary, Amsterdam

While sympathising with those who have died, most who catch the virus live. While some countries are over-reacting to this swine flu epidemic there is no hiding the fact this virus will spread irrespective of draconian airport procedures, quarantining measures or culling pigs.
Kiran, Bangalore , India

I think the poverty pandemic will kill more people in the third world through starvation, malnutrition, lack of clean drinking water, malaria, typhoid, cholera, sleeping sickness etc. Maybe if we spent the swine flu money on those "items" instead more lives would be saved.
JJS, Dundee

How convenient that swine flu came at a time when it could take our minds off economic meltdown!
Sandy, Middlesbrough, UK

Face masks are utterly useless as a defence system! The only use of them is for sufferers, to prevent them coughing and sneezing their viruses to the rest of mankind... in fact, when worn in defence, they definitely do far more harm than good!

Keep your hands clean (wash with soap and water, or better still an alcohol-based cleanser, regularly), and 'catch coughs and sneezes in your handkerchiezes!', you know, just as we did in the 50s!
Gordon, Barton-upon-Humber, UK

In my opinion countries need to be far better prepared in these days of global mass transportation, by ensuring that Airports and to a degree, all Sea-ports use correct monitoring not just at arrivals but also at the point of departures. By using thermal cameras and to have health officials and computers with health information in multiple languages are available etc. Also on long haul flights and cruses if a passenger(s) is found to be unwell, and displaying the right type of symptoms that they are tested and other passengers informed, and given preventative treatment and specialist advice, also major events should be postponed the F.A cup for example. Matthew Jones, Barry, UK

The Swine Flu Pandemic can be controlled just like Mexico is doing. If a country manages to avoid crowded gatherings, it will cut the beginning of the spread of the disease.
Federico Lage, Mexico City, Mexico

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