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Swine Flu’s Spread Prompts New Restrictions in Mexico

As the cases of swine flu in the U.S. and abroad continue to mount, Mexico's Ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan, discusses efforts to contain the illness and defends how the Mexican government initially responded to the outbreak.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We start with the swine flu story. The numbers climbed again today. There were more than 150 dead in Mexico, and at least 64 cases confirmed in the U.S., with scores more suspected.

    NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman begins our coverage of the flu story.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The day brought major developments on both coasts. In New York City, with the most reported cases, officials said hundreds of children now are ill at a school where swine flu was found.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, mayor of New York City: It is very possible that this will spread further and that your child will get it, like every year. It's exactly the same thing. This goes through the population.

    And that's why Tom thinks that it's very likely that there are other places around the country with lots of cases they just don't recognize or why this is not — this could easily spread through the city.

    The great unknown is how many generations you can pass it through from one to another. Does it fizzle out quickly? Or does it go on for a long time? And it's just much too early to know that.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    And across the country, California declared a state of emergency, with more than a dozen cases confirmed. The action makes it easier to purchase equipment and materiel to combat the virus.

  • OFFICIAL:

    You've got to pass that hand sanitizer around.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Los Angeles County officials also were investigating two deaths, but ruled out the flu in one of them.

    In Washington, President Obama asked Congress for an additional $1.5 billion to combat the swine flu.

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

    ROBERT GIBBS, White House press secretary: This is about prudent planning, moving forward to ensure, as I said, that there are funding that can help defray costs for moving infrastructure around the country, to ensure that we have the resources, if needed, to produce additional antiviral drugs, to ramp up the production of a vaccine, and just to ensure that we have the resources that are necessary at a state, local and federal level.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    To date, however, the cases of swine flu in the U.S. have been less severe than those found in Mexico.

    The acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Besser, said there were several factors.

    DR. RICHARD BESSER, acting director, Centers for Disease Control: You'll look at the immune status of individuals. You'll look at the age. You'll look at the gender and see if there's anything there that can shed some light.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Besser also reported several Americans now are hospitalized, and he predicted there will be deaths in the U.S. before it's all over.

    That puts a premium on finding a vaccine. At a Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned it will take some time.

    DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: The virus, as was mentioned, has been isolated and characterized by the CDC. Over a period of anywhere from four to six months or so, you may be able to start getting off the assembly a number of doses so that we might have it ready for people several months from now.

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