The World Health Organization (WHO) today affirmed that there is a swine flu pandemic, which simply means the virus has now spread to more than one region of the world. It’s important to note that it does not mean the virus has become more threatening.
The WHO continues to affirm it is not recommending travel restrictions related to the swine flu virus. In a statement sent to member countries ahead of its formal announcement of the Phase 6 alert, the WHO urged nations not to close borders or restrict travel and trade.
Swine flu, also referred to as the H1N1 virus, has already been reported in all 50 states in the US, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, since June 3. At this time, most people who have become ill because of the virus in the United States have recovered without requiring medical treatment and have experienced typical flu symptoms. It’s thought that swine flu spreads in the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread; mainly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus. While nationwide US influenza surveillance systems indicate that overall influenza activity is decreasing in the country at this time, swine flu outbreaks are ongoing in parts of the US. The CDC is continuing to watch the situation carefully to support the public health response and gather information about the virus. The US Travel Association continues to work with the media and administration officials to ensure continued support for travel as the situation develops. USTravel.org has a Swine Flu Resources page, which can be accessed at http://www.ustravel.org/pressmedia/swine_flu.html
World Health Organization continues to advise no restriction on travel related to the swine flu. The level of flu pandemic alert is at phase 6, which signals to governments that there is swine flu in more than one region around the world.
What Officials Are Saying
“We have good reason to believe that this pandemic will be of moderate severity, and we know from experience that severity can vary on many factors from one country to another.”
-World Health Organization general director Margaret Chan, June 11, 2009
“Today’s decision by the WHO was expected and doesn’t change what we have been doing here in the United States to prepare for and respond to this public health challenge.”
-Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, June 11, 2009
“We responded to the H1N1 outbreak from the outset with the presumption that a pandemic was likely, so this decision comes as no surprise.”
-Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, June 11, 2009
Centers for Disease Control:
United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Emergency Response Network:
What US Travel Is Doing
US Travel continues to meet with federal officials to stay up-to-date on the latest information, while urging measured and responsible comments involving travel.
US Travel continues to aggressively work with national media to provide the travel industry’s position during this fluid situation.
The US Travel Association continues to be the repository of the facts for CVBs regarding group cancellations and economic impact due to swine flu. They are asking all CVBs to send any cancellations due to swine flu to firstname.lastname@example.org.