Swine flu shutdown over as Mexico cases fall

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The Independent US

Restaurants and cafes in Mexico City will reopen tomorrow after the country recorded a fall in the number of confirmed new cases of swine flu.

The city's Mayor said that libraries, museums and churches will follow suit on Thursday but cinemas, theatres and bars will remain closed for the foreseeable future. The city has gone into virtual shutdown since the outbreak began, with a seemingly successful five-day closure of non-essential businesses. Pupils will not return to schools until officials have finished combing sites for traces of the virus. There have been 727 recorded cases of swine flu and 26 deaths. But evidence of the disease's expanding reach came yesterday in the form of the first confirmed case in Portugal, that of a 30-year-old woman who had recently returned from a holiday in Mexico.

The Health Ministry of neighbouring Spain confirmed that 54 cases had been recorded in the hardest hit country in Europe, while unconfirmed reports suggested there may be a case in Colombia, which would be the first in South America.

By last night a total of 1,025 cases of the virus had been reported in 20 countries. The number of confirmed cases in the US rose sharply, from 226 to 286, spread over 36 states.

A World Health Organisation spokesman, Dick Thompson, said yesterday that the agency was considering raising its pandemic level from five to six, its highest alert.

France confirmed two new cases, both people who had recently visited Mexico, raising the total to four. There are four confirmed cases in Italy and eight in Germany. In Alberta, Canada, health officials recorded the first case of the H1N1 virus passing from a human to another species as they quarantined around 220 pigs infected by a worker returning from Mexico. A total of 101 cases have been confirmed in Canada.

Three cases of swine flu have been recorded in Israel, two in El Salvador, and six in New Zealand. Other countries with only one confirmed case last night were: Ireland, Costa Rica, South Korea, Hong Kong, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

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