The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released an update yesterday confirming that 23 countries have officially reported cases of the influenza A (H1N1) infection, commonly known as Swine Flu.The influenza A (H1N1) infection is commonly known as Swine Flu however the term has been deemed inappropriate as the new strain has never before been found in pigs and is made up of at least 4 strains including one from humans and one from birds.
According to the statement by the WHO, the 23 countries officially reported 1893 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.
Mexico has reported 942 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 29 deaths. The United States has reported 642 laboratory confirmed human cases, including two deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (165), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (5), Germany (9), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (5), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (5), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (2), Spain (73), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (28).
WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.
Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases, including influenza.
Further information on the situation will be available on the WHO website on a regular basis.
There have been no confirmed cases so far in a Pacific island country although nations in the region have been warned of their vulnerability with the WHO warning that if cases are reported, the impact will be worse here than elsewhere due to our limited stretch of health care systems and essential services like safe water, electricity, security. This is according to WHO medical officer, Dr. Jacob Kool, who spoke to Radio New Zealand.
According to Radio New Zealand International, Dr. Kool stated that in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the most severely affected countries were actually in the Pacific and some of them had quite a high mortality.
Radio New Zealand has also reported that there are three confirmed cases of the flu in Hawaii who were identified through the surveillance of passengers arriving in Hawaii onboard airplanes.
However, the cases are said to be "home isolated" because of the lack of severe symptoms.
In Fiji, 2 suspected cases who traveled from New Zealand were cleared although one of them was being closely monitored by health authorities. Samoa is also closely monitoring the flu symptoms of three new arrivals from the United States.
All countries in the region have stepped up control at their borders and ports of entry in an effort to keep themselves free of the virus.
Meanwhile, the WHO has left the pandemic alert at level 5.
On Sunday, officials in Mexico, where the virus is thought to have originated, stated that the epidemic was now "in its phase of decline".
However, people are still advised to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly and report any flu symptoms.