Page last updated at 21:20 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 22:20 UK

Swine flu: Correspondents' round-up

Swine flu has spread around the world and will almost inevitably reach every country, the World Health Organization has said. But there remains uncertainty about its threat.

Below, BBC correspondents around the world report on how some affected countries are dealing with the pandemic.

INDIA : Soutik Biswas

The number of swine flu cases in India has continued to rise. With 23 new cases reported on Friday from eight cities, the number of people who have tested positive for the flu has risen to 371, according to the federal health ministry.

A swine flu awareness march in India
In India, the health ministry has urged people not to travel abroad

Of this, 237 patients have been discharged, while the rest of them remain admitted in special hospital wards. Some patients who have been quarantined in special wards have complained of poor facilities.

Last month the government issued an alert against swine flu and announced health screening of incoming passengers from affected countries: nearly four million passengers flying into India's 22 international airports have been screened so far.

The federal health minister has also urged people not to travel abroad until swine flu in the country is under control.

When the first cases of the flu were detected, it made the front pages of all the Indian newspapers but since then coverage has been muted.

In the last week, however, there has been an upsurge in coverage because at least one school in Delhi has had to be shut down for a few days because of suspected swine flu cases. This has led to fresh anxiety among parents and school authorities, leading to a revival of interest in the story.

AUSTRALIA : Nick Bryant

There have been more than 15,000 cases in Australia, and 46 deaths.

A patient has their temperature taken in a Melbourne clinic
The young, pregnant and overweight are most at risk

All of the victims have had underlying medical conditions.

The number of cases jumped two weeks ago, but there has not yet been the really fast acceleration, an exponential increase, that public health officials feared.

Children have been on their winter holidays here and their return to school is expected to make things worse. Kids are seen as the super-spreaders of the virus.

There has been a lot of pressure on intensive care units, with some patients spending as long as three weeks in intensive care.

There is also a potential shortage of special ventilation machines which oxygenate the blood of sufferers whose lungs are too diseased or damaged for normal mechanical ventilation.

Doctors say the very sick have tended to be the young, the pregnant and the overweight.

There is also a concern about outbreak in Aboriginal communities, where the quality of health care is not always that good and because people often suffer from different conditions.

Human trials for a vaccine started this week in Melbourne and Adelaide, the first in the world. If successful - and the expectation is that the trials will be - the government is hoping to start vaccinating people by October.

By then the winter will be over, but as countries in the northern hemisphere have shown, the virus can spread at the height of summer.

GERMANY: Steve Rosenberg

According to the latest figures, Germany has 2,844 confirmed cases of swine flu.

On Friday German officials reported that the virus had started spreading rapidly through the country.

People walk past a Deutsche Telekom logo (file pic)
Deutsche Telekom is one company taking action against swine flu

"The numbers have doubled in the last few days," says Professor Reinhard Burger, Vice-President of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. His institute is leading the battle against swine flu in Germany.

"There is no cause for panic, but this is serious and it causes us some concern," Professor Burger told me. On Friday the German authorities ordered 50 million doses of vaccine, enough to protect around a third of the population this autumn.

Worried by the spread of the virus, some companies have taking steps to improve hygiene.

At Deutsche Telekom's headquarters in Berlin, disinfectant machines have been installed in the company cafeteria.


In the United States, swine flu has dropped out of the headlines in recent weeks, although the number of cases has increased steadily.

A technician in Washington handles a vial of swine flu
Labs in Washington are working on a swine flu vaccine

Over one million Americans are likely to have been infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 302 deaths, although most reported cases have been mild.

There is, however, a growing sense of unease as the autumn flu season approaches. The main focus of the authorities is the development and distribution of an effective vaccine.

Officials have said the illness could hit up to 40% of Americans over the next two years, if a vaccine campaign and other measures are not successful.

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