Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 11:57 UK

Mexico plea as virus 'stabilises'

Masked woman in Mexico City on 2 May 2009
Health officials say levels of infection seem to be stabilising in Mexico

Mexico appealed for fair treatment towards its citizens and products, as health officials there said the swine flu outbreak could be stabilising.

A minister hit out at countries barring flights from Mexico, while another appealed against restrictions on pork.

Mexico has now confirmed 19 fatalities from the virus, which is now present in 18 countries around the world.

But Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said it appeared that the outbreak could be levelling off.

"Each day we're seeing fewer serious cases and therefore the mortality rate is dropping," he said.

Mexico: 101 suspected deaths - 19 confirmed
US: One death, 160 confirmed cases
New Zealand: 4 confirmed cases
Canada: 85 confirmed cases
Spain: 40 confirmed cases
UK: 18 confirmed cases
Germany: 6 confirmed cases
Israel: 3 confirmed cases
France: 2 confirmed cases
Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Irish Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia: 1 confirmed case

Countries with confirmed cases of secondary transmission:
Mexico, US, Canada, Spain, Germany, UK

On Saturday South Korea, Italy and the Irish Republic became the most recent countries to confirm cases of the swine flu virus.

Globally more than 700 people are known to be infected.

Person-to-person transmission has been confirmed in six countries.

But in cases outside Mexico, the effects of the virus do not appear to be severe.

A top World Health Organization official said that there was no evidence of the virus spreading in a sustained way outside North America.

"I think it would be, at this stage, unwise to suggest that, in any way, those events are out of control or spreading in an uncontrolled fashion," said Dr Michael Ryan, the WHO's director of global alert and response.

"I think the next few days will tell as this develops," he said.

In other developments:

• Canada has announced that a herd of pigs has tested positive for swine flu, possibly infected by a farm worker who returned from Mexico, but officials said that there was no threat to food supply

• Some 400 people have been quarantined in China, most in a Hong Kong hotel, after the virus was confirmed in a 25-year-old arrival from Mexico

• Benin became the second African nation to report a suspected case of the virus

'Unjust measures'

In Mexico, Mr Cordova said that the flu outbreak appeared to be stabilising.

"It would still be imprudent to say that we're past the worst of it but I do think... we are in a stage of stabilisation," he said.

Swine flu symptoms are similar to those produced by ordinary seasonal flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue
If you have flu symptoms and recently visited affected areas of Mexico, you should seek medical advice
If you suspect you are infected, you should stay at home and take advice by telephone initially, in order to minimise the risk of infection

On Saturday, authorities cut the suspected death toll by 75 to 101, as more test samples were returned.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa criticised five nations - China, Peru, Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador - which have cut flights to Mexico.

"We're surprised by the adoption of unjustified measures," she said.

She also urged Mexicans to avoid travel to China, accusing the government of placing a number of Mexican citizens in unnecessary quarantine in three Chinese cities.

Mexico has also - together with the US and Canada - appealed to those countries which had banned pork products.

Decisions should be made based on scientific evidence and not create "unnecessary trade restrictions", a joint statement from the three countries' agriculture ministers said.

The WHO has also cautioned against flu-linked restrictions on pig products.

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