Countries Ramp Up H1N1 Preparedness

The following articles look at how countries are combating H1N1 (swine flu):

NPR‘s Morning Edition examines the “complicated” task ahead to administer two vaccines – one that offers protection against the seasonal flu, the other protecting against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus – to the public this fall (Knox, 7/20).

“As New York City braces for a second wave of swine flu this fall, health officials are making plans to carve space out of hospitals, clinics and other buildings to screen people before they can overwhelm emergency rooms,” the New York Times reports in an article that looks at the lessons learned from the spring H1N1 outbreak (Hartocollis, 7/20).

In a related story, the San Francisco Chronicle examines how public health officials are gearing up for the “largest mass-immunization campaign since the polio vaccine was introduced more than 50 years ago.” The newspaper writes, “Local public health agencies will bear much of the responsibility for vaccinating the public, and the state is receiving $30 million in federal grants to help prepare for an expected re-emergence of swine flu this fall” (Allday, 7/21).

The Ministry of Health on Monday announced Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah will lead the Saudi delegation at an emergency meeting of the Arab health ministers in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday to discuss H1N1 preparedness, including “precautionary measures to be taken to combat swine flu and reduce its spread during Haj and Umrah this year,” Arab News reports (Rasooldeen, 7/21).

The British government recently announced plans to administer H1N1 vaccines to half of its population, AFP/ reports. “Britain is the worst-hit territory in Europe, with estimates of 55,000 new cases of the A(H1N1) virus last week,” the news service writes.

In other news, “[t]he US territory of Guam announced its first swine flu-related death and the neighbouring Northern Mariana Islands reported its first two A(H1N1) cases, showing the virus has spread to the remote corners of the Pacific Ocean,” AFP/ writes (7/20). IRIN reports that an Egyptian woman has become the first to die from H1N1 in the Middle East (7/20).

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