This morning the CDC is confirming 109 cases of H1N1 infection in the United States. There has been one death in the United States. The WHO has maintained its pandemic alert at Phase 5. (If you have not been, be sure to also link to www.pandemicflu.gov. This is becoming a very comprehensive and user-friendly service.)
This morning the New York Times characterizes the situation as follows, “Slowly but surely, swine flu continued to spread Friday, including to the ranks of the United States military, and across the globe the number of confirmed cases rose from 257 to 331, the World Health Organization in Geneva reported.”
Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, is undertaking extraordinary efforts to contain the spread of the novel virus. The BBC headlines, “Mexico shuts down to control flu.”
As reported previously, the start of the H1N1 virus story can be traced back, at least, to late March. But in terms of significant public and official attention, it was last Friday when the risk began to be recognized in a serious way.
HLSwatch gave its first attention to the specific threat last Thursday morning:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating two cases of swine flu detected in children in the San Diego, California, area last week… The children were infected with a virus known as swine influenza A H1N1, which has a unique combination of genes not previously seen in flu viruses in either humans or swine – although it shares similarities with a virus that has been circulating in pigs since 1999,” according to CNN. UPDATE (late Thursday): The CDC now confirms seven with swine flu, five in California and two in Texas. (More from CNN)
Friday morning this blog led with: Swine flu: sprinting to tackle a viral end-run. If the Washington Post is accurate, Friday morning readers of Homeland Security Watch were getting the information about the same time as President Obama. Over the weekend we focused on risk communications implications of the story. Since Monday we have attempted to focus on broader policy and planning implications.
We cannot know what the next week will bring. I hope our attention to the intersection of policy-and-practice might continue. Your comments on this matter have been very helpful. A new question is posed today (see above). I expect we will return periodically to consideration of these issues.
A couple of practical — and personal — notes: Over the last two weeks I have neglected some professional obligations in order to “seize the day” here at HLSwatch. But I will need to address that balance in the next couple of weeks. Further, on Monday I will have a cataract removed from my right eye. If all goes well, I will be posting again — even on Monday night — but if I disappear, you will know the results have been “fuzzy.”