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U.S., Mexico Move Quickly To Control Swine Flu Outbreak

As the swine flu death toll rose in Mexico on Monday and dozens more cases were reported in the United States, officials moved swiftly to contain the outbreak.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Fears of a growing swine flu outbreak spread worldwide today. In Mexico, officials reported the death count reached 149, with more than 1,600 cases. At least 40 cases were confirmed in the United States.

    NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser has our lead story report.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour correspondent: The U.S. government warned Americans today to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico as the swine flu spread in America's southern neighbor. Health officials said they could not yet gauge the scope of the outbreak there.

    Normally bustling Mexico City, which was a ghost town over the weekend, haltingly returned to work today, just in time for a strong earthquake to rock the already-shaken capital.

    The magnitude 5.6 temblor was centered more than 100 miles southwest of Mexico City, but tall buildings swayed and office workers flowed into the streets.

    Many of them wore surgical masks, a measure aimed at stemming the spread of the virus in the crowded capital of nearly 20 million people.

    The Mexican government took several steps aimed at curtailing transmission. Schools were ordered closed throughout the country until May 6th. Classes in Mexico City in five states were already suspended.

    Churches in the heavily Catholic nation were closed again today. Movie theaters, bars, and clubs were also shuttered. The Mexican government may go further still and shut down the entire national government to slow the viral creep.

    Mexico City's mayor was focused on treating the sick.

  • MAYOR MARCELO EBRARD, Mexico City (through translator):

    In the first place, we have to guarantee, along with the federal health secretariat, the distribution of medicine to every person whom doctors expect could have the influenza virus. That is the first strategic goal for today.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Ten Mexican states, including the capital, have reported swine flu cases.

    In the United States, state health officials in New York, California, Kansas, Ohio, and Texas have all reported confirmed swine flu cases, and Michigan has reported one probable case.

    This morning, President Obama offered reassurance that his administration was closely monitoring the swine flu cases.

  • U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert, but it's not a cause for alarm.

    The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively.

    I'm getting regular updates on the situation from the responsible agencies and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control will be offering regular updates to the American people.

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