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Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu: Alert Orange

Latest update on swine flu - the Ministry of Health has upgraded the Disease Outbreak Response System Alert status in Singapore from Yellow to Orange:

Swine Flu

Last Updated 30 April 2009

The Mexican swine flu outbreak situation continues to evolve rapidly.

As of 30 April 2009, there are reportedly 99 confirmed cases of Mexican swine flu (H1N1) cases in Mexico (with 8 deaths), 91 in the United States (with 1 death), 19 in Canada, 10 in Spain, 5 in United Kingdom, 3 in Germany, 3 in New Zealand, 2 in Israel, 2 in Costa Rica, 1 in Austria, 1 in Switzerland and 1 in Peru.

As of 30 April 09, there are no human cases of Mexican swine flu in Singapore. There have been 22 cases in total referred for further medical assessment. Of the 22 cases, 19 cases have been tested negative for Influenza A. 2 tested positive for usual circulating seasonal strains of Influenza A and 1 is pending laboratory investigations.

Alert Status

On 29 April 2009, WHO raised the current level of flu pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5. The change to a higher phase indicates that there is human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one region. The declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent, though not inevitable. WHO has recommended countries to take steps to heighten surveillance, adopt measures for early detection and treatment of cases, and step up infection control in all healthcare facilities.

Even though there are currently no human cases of Mexican swine flu in Singapore, the Singapore Ministry of Health on 30 April 09 upgraded the Disease Outbreak Response System Alert status in Singapore from Yellow to Orange. There is a real possibility that such cases may surface in Singapore and we must be prepared at all fronts to delay its spread to Singapore for as long as possible.

Public Advisory

Members of the public are strongly advised to postpone or avoid non-essential travel to Mexico and affected areas. In the event that travel is unavoidable, the public is advised to take precautionary measures such as avoiding crowded areas and maintaining high standards of personal hygiene at all times.

The public is advised to maintain high standards of personal hygiene, such as washing hands frequently with soap and water, especially after contact with respiratory secretions (e.g. after sneezing and coughing). Those who are unwell with respiratory illness should stay at home and wear a surgical mask if possible.

Schools, workplaces and places of mass gathering are encouraged to conduct temperature checks routinely. Those with a higher-than-normal temperature should be advised to seek treatment immediately. Recording of all information of all visitors, including the date and time of visit, personal particulars and contact number of visitors, is recommended. This will facilitate contact tracing when the need arises.

Would you like to know more?

FAQS on Swine Flu (
Communicating the Swine influenza A (H1N1) crisis (The Biology Refugia)
We are now at Alert Orange (Angry Doctor)