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2009-10-02

H1N1 subsides in South America, returns in Central America and Mexico

Fernando Sánchez

More than 33,000 people in South America have been infected by the H1N1 influenza virus and the death toll has now passed the 2,000 mark, but the authorities are confident that the onset of spring in the southern hemisphere will bring a decrease in the nu

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Mexico has seen an alarming increase in influenza A (H1N1) infections, with 3,934 cases reported in the last week.

Mexico has seen an alarming increase in influenza A (H1N1) infections, with 3,934 cases reported in the last week.

Friday, Oct. 2

LATIN AMERICA – More than 33,000 people in South America have been infected by the H1N1 influenza virus and the death toll has now passed the 2,000 mark, but authorities are confident that the onset of spring in the southern hemisphere will bring a decrease in the number of cases. The opposite applies in Mexico and Central America, where measures are now being taken to prevent a fresh outbreak during the northern hemisphere’s autumn and winter seasons.

More deaths from influenza A (H1N1) have been reported in Brazil than in any other country, according to Milenio, with pregnant women especially vulnerable. The Brazilian Health Ministry reported that the number of H1N1-related deaths had risen to 899 at the end of September. In the rest of South America, the death toll has been highest in Argentina, where 538 have died. It is followed by Peru (133), Chile (132), Colombia (82), Venezuela (71), Bolivia (54), Ecuador (44), Paraguay (42) and Uruguay (33).

Chile plans to test a new vaccine for the virus on children and the young, while Uruguayan Health Director Jorge Basso told Radio El Espectador that the Health Ministry has already ordered 2 million doses of vaccine from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which will have 700 million doses for sale.

Télam reported a proposal by Argentinian Health Minister Juan Manzur to PAHO for South America to produce its own flu vaccines. “Our country suggests,” he said, “that, in addition to buying vaccines, we should acquire the know-how to produce them.”

In countries above the equator, the pandemic continues to advance. Mexico has seen an alarming increase in H1N1 infections, according to UPI, with 3,934 cases reported in the last week alone. The Health Ministry reported that the number of deaths has risen from 226 to 231, and the government estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 people could die from the virus this winter.

Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos told Terra that the country was considering a loan of US$370 million from the World Bank to tackle the new outbreak.

In Central America, the most recent official figures show that 106 people have now died from flu. EFE reports that Costa Rica is worst affected with 37 deaths, followed by El Salvador (19), Honduras (15), Guatemala (13), Panama (11) and Nicaragua (11).

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