Despite a fall in the number of serious swine flu cases in Mexico, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the virus could still become a pandemic.
“Each day there are fewer serious cases and the mortality has been decreasing,” Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said in Mexico City, where millions are following government advice to stay at home.
Of the more than 100 suspected deaths from the new H1N1 virus that have emerged in Mexico, 19 had been confirmed, Mr Cordova said. Mexico had already scaled back from its original estimate of 176 suspected deaths.
But new cases of the mongrel virus, which mixes swine, avian and human flu strains, are still being tracked across the world, with new cases confirmed in Costa Rica, Italy and Ireland. The virus has now been found in 18 countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said H1N1 influenza had not spread in a sustained way outside North America, as required before the pandemic alert is raised to its highest level. But it said that would probably happen soon.
“I would still propose that a pandemic is imminent because we are seeing the disease spread,” Michael Ryan, WHO director of Global Alert and Response, told a briefing on Saturday.